New research has discovered that teens spend 9 hours a day in front of a screen, while tweens (ages 8-12) spend about 6. How and when do they find the time?
When my children were younger (and prior to smartphones), our school-day routine was very tight. Can you relate to this tight schedule?
- Wake up at 7 a.m. (then try to wake them up again and again, as one was always easier to wake than the other).
- Make sure they’re presentable.
- Get something to eat.
- Make sure they had all they needed for school (you don’t want that dreaded phone call that they left something).
- Walk out the door on time.
- Be alert to learn for 7 hours at school.
- After school, go to 3 hours of practice and then 3 hours at home eating, doing homework, etc.
The total time from wake to bed is 14 hours. That’s a long “work day!”
Looking at that schedule and knowing they are screen-free during football practice, it only leaves 2 other hours that they are not on their screens. Are you following?
This means that most kids are on a screen at school, home and most likely during the night when they should be sleeping. Hopefully, they are not on their screen while driving.
I fully support the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) recommendation for parents to monitor their children’s media diet and encourage them to make wise media choices. This is just like other things we monitor as parents: nutrition, safety, what they are watching, reading or playing, etc.
Screen time has a huge impact – positive and negative – on our children’s development. Excessive media affects a child’s attention abilities, academic success, sleep, eating and weight.
So what should we do as parents?
It’s time that we look up from our own electronics and set some guidelines for our family. Here are a few tips from the AAP:
- No more than 2 hours of screen time a day. This excludes use of electronics to help with work or school.
- Make sure they’re watching, playing and reading quality content and they’re not engaging in online activities that are inappropriate in content.
- Establish media-free areas in the house such as the bedroom and dinner table.
- Encourage your family to be active, read books and play non-electronic games.
- Limit screen time right before bed because the bright light from a screen can suppress our natural production of melatonin and make it hard to fall asleep.
- Eliminate screen time for children younger than 2 years completely. Early development is enhanced by real-life interactions.
Most importantly, be an example for your families and look up. I know this is something I need to work on too.