Tackling Your Child's Screen Time
Part Two of our Three Part Parenting Series
In guidelines released recently by the World Health Organisation (WHO)* it has been recommended that children have access to very little screen time. For some ages, specifically under two years, WHO recommends no screen time at all. For modern families, this can be challenging as kids love playing on screens; be it iPads, computers, their phones or game consoles. Young people also socialise increasingly more via their screens. At Piece by Piece Therapies we often hear from families how difficult they find it to moderate their child’s screen time and instil appropriate boundaries. Here, we will be exploring some of the consequences of too much screen time, as well as how you can create a positive space with your child’s device and encourage healthy boundaries.
What are some of the consequences of too much screen time for my child?
As mentioned, the WHO recently released a number of guidelines for families around the amount of time their children should have access to screens. The primary concerns for why children should have reduced access to devices is due to the sedentary nature of watching screens. One of the biggest concerns for modern society is the number of activities we do sitting down. Screens promote sitting. By reducing screen time we are encouraging children to be active and play. Another potential negative of screen time is that often the games or activities that children are engaging with, whilst using screens, are directed by the screens themselves. Specifically, children are not being encouraged to use their own imagination through self-directed play.
How can you create positive screen time experiences?
Sometimes social media and gaming can be really positive places for young people, where they can connect with like minded people. Check out our earlier article Managing Social Media to explore helpful tips on how to support your child to create positive online experiences.
How can I create appropriate boundaries around my child’s screen time?
Firstly, get involved in what your child is doing on their device. By understanding what your child is doing with their screens you can closely monitor how appropriate the content is. It also offers you an opportunity to connect with them and engage in something they are interested in.
Model healthy habits! We all know the phrase ‘do as I say not as I do.’ Your children are looking to you to guide them in so many things, screen time is an important part of this. Make sure to put your phone away before bed, be present when engaging with your family and put the computer away or turn your phone to silent. Additionally, try doing a number of ‘screen free’ activities with your kids, such as playing in the park or walking to the shops.
Lastly, it’s really important to have no screens in the bedroom. Not only because it can be a huge distraction and delay your child’s sleep but because the blue light emitted by your phone can delay the production of melatonin in the brain. Melatonin is the hormone produced by your brain before bedtime to make you sleepy and helps you both to fall asleep, but also, stay asleep.
Screens can be the window to a number of wonderful experiences for your children, but like everything, moderation is key. At Piece by Piece Therapies we want to support families to feel empowered to navigate this complex and, often, difficult path.
If you have any questions or would like more support for yourself, or your family, please do not hesitate to contact Piece by Piece Therapies by clicking the button below.