Screens have become an integral part of our lives. Adults use computers for work and children to learn. They spend hours on their smartphones playing games and chatting with friends. And don’t forget the first widely used screens – TVs.
So many displays lead to people spending hours in front of them, which is especially dangerous for children. If you’d like to learn more, keep reading for more on the harmful effects of negative screen time on kids. We also gathered critical tips to help lower screen use and decrease these issues!
What Are the Harmful Effects of Excessive Screen Time for Children?
It might be an easy way out to let your child watch TV or play smartphone games. But too much time in front of a screen could lead to the following:
- Extra pounds. It begins with a few additional pounds but often leads to obesity. If kids spend time playing games on phones, that means they are sedentary. If they consume junk food, it only increases the risk of overeating.
- Irregular sleep. Is your kid staying up late playing games on their phone? A disrupted sleep pattern increases the risk of obesity and fatigue while affecting the overall quality of life.
- Poor school performance. Excessive screen time leads to poor academic performance in children. It leaves less time for learning but also affects concentration.
- Behavioural issues. Attention problems are only the beginning. For example, children watching too much TV might have impaired social skills. And too much exposure to violence might make them think it’s normal behaviour. Excessive screen use could even be a risk of developing anxiety and depression.
4 Tips to Lower Screen Time and Limit Harmful Effects
How much screen time is too much? According to the American Psychological Association, kids under two shouldn’t have any display available, and it should be less than 60 minutes until they turn five. But for older children and adults, too much screen time starts affecting your quality of life and leads to the harmful effects mentioned above. Here’s how you can limit screen use to lower these side effects!
1. Agree on Where and When You Can Use Screens
Create a set of rules that everyone in the house would follow because you need to set an example as a parent. The rules should include where and when screens are available. For example, nobody should use smartphones while eating at a table. Also, consider forbidding screens in the bedroom, especially for younger children.
2. Come Up with Fun Activities That Don’t Involve Technology
There’s so much you can do, from playing board games or sports to riding a bike together. You can even head downtown for dinner and have a fun family evening out. An occasional glance at a phone is okay, but try to minimize the use of screens during these activities.
3. Encourage Healthy Electronic Use
How many times have you been watching a movie on TV but scrolling on Instagram on your phone? It’s a sign of unhealthy screen use since it’s impossible for complete focus to be on both displays. So, encourage healthy screen use. If you are having a family movie night, leave your phones until the film ends.
4. Adjust How You Use the Devices
It’s not only about the time spent in front of a screen but also how you use it. According to AACAP, children playing violent games could imitate or become numb to violence in real life. Therefore, parents should engage and pick age-appropriate games while limiting times for playing them.
If there’s no other option, you could try an android parental control app for online safety. You install it on the child’s device, and it’s possible to control which apps they can use. Web filtering is another convenient feature, and the app will also monitor all messages and other activities. If it detects suspicious words, such as those related to violence or sex, it’ll send an immediate alert to your phone.
Parents’ engagement is crucial to succeeding in limiting the screen time of their children. It’s a process with the goal of showing there are many fun things to do beyond looking at different displays. Try to think of activities that suit your child’s personality and focus on those. You can also come up with a reward system and require doing something to earn screen time or promise a prize if the kid limits its display use to certain hours. It’ll help your child develop their physical and mental skills while minimizing the risk of becoming screen addicts when they get older.