Less Screen Time and More Socialization
It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that we spend too much time in front of a computer screen. We work in front of a computer, check our smartphones throughout the day, and relax with a tablet in the evening, either watching a show or playing digital games.
Our children watch us and copy us, but their screen time is hurting them more than helping them.
Technology isn’t as healthy as we are led to believe. Increasing the time spent in front of a computer screen increases the likelihood of obesity and depression, and it invites other health issues. More screen time also means less cognitive development; idle time in front of the computer can be detrimental to our thinking skills.
It’s time to put down smartphone, turn off the TV, and walk away from the tablet, at least for a little while.
Getting a handle on screen time
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, here are some ways to curb the computer compulsion:
Limit tech time.
The first step in managing any digital devices is to limit its use. Without clearly defined limits, users binge on the blue screen, becoming addicted to technology. Their behavior affects their eating and sleeping habits, changes social relationships, and damages health.
Try these strategies for turning off the tech:
- Have a screen-free meal at least once a week.
- Go for a walk without your smartphone (or turn it off and keep it in your pocket).
- Earn it back. Establish a schedule that lets kids earn tech time by completing chores or earning grades.
- Set a time limit with a timer or put all technology to bed (in a room other than where you sleep) at a predetermined time.
Practice communicating in person.
Listening and talking to another person is becoming a lost art. Social media favors one-way discourse, and the skills used for discussion atrophy. Children should learn how to communication with others of all ages and backgrounds. By doing so, they improve their language fluency, understanding, and learn how to communicate actively.
How you and your children spend time is important. Smartphone users access an average of nine apps daily and as many as 30 different apps in a month. Some of these apps may be educational, but their quality will vary greatly. Check on the apps your children use; not all of them are beneficial.
In addition, using technology as an emotional substitute or an escape can be detrimental to mental and physical health. Children need to learn how to identify their feelings, manage emotions, and self-soothe in times of stress.
Be the change
Reducing screen time isn’t easy. Your kids will watch you as you take the lead in this initiative.
One of the most important things you can do as the parent or adult in a child’s life is model the behavior you want to see in them. Avoid the temptation to use your smartphone when the family agreed on a no-tech time.
You won’t be alone. Many of the executives at Amazon, Apple, and Google are already doing the same thing. They limit phone use, screen time, and the amount of technology access their children have, perhaps because they understand better than anyone else how addictive technology is meant to be.
Technology can be a useful tool, even necessary at times, but only to the extent that we control it — not the other way around.