September 28, 2022

Why and How You Should Reduce Your Child’s Daily Screen Time

Why and How You Should Reduce Your Child’s Daily Screen Time

Using electronics has become a regular part of our everyday routine. Whether it be to study or play, electronics are everywhere. While embracing technology isn’t bad and video games have their benefits, prolonged exposure to screens can have negative effects on a child’s mental and physical health.

 

Impact of Prolonged Screen time

The AACPA reports that kids on average spend 4-6 hours in front of screens each day. This number increases to 9-10 hours as they enter adolescence. Prolonged exposure to screens can have the following health effects:

  • Irregular Sleep: Blue light emitted from screens can throw off a child’s circadian rhythm, making it harder for them to fall asleep and get sufficient sleep.
  • Short-Attention Spans: Constant exposure to social media conditions the brain to focus on information for a short period of time and quickly move to the next piece. This is essentially what we do while ‘scrolling’ through content.
  • Reduced Physical Activity: As the internet can fulfill a child’s need for entertainment, games, and play, they become much less motivated to engage in physical activities, which in the long run can affect their growth and development.

 

Develop a Healthier Lifestyle

To help your child reduce their dependence on screens, here are some important steps you can take

  • Set Boundaries: The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages children less than two years old to refrain from screens, if possible. That doesn’t mean they cannot have video calls with relatives or watch Elmo occasionally, though. After they turn 3, screens should be restricted to 1-2 hours a day until they turn 5. This should include the use of any electronic device such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, television, etc.
  • Create No Screen Zones: Dedicate areas of your home where screens aren’t allowed. This can include bedrooms, the dining room, outside areas such as the garden, porch, etc. Additionally, avoid installing television or computers in your child’s bedroom.
  • Provide Non-Screen Alternatives: To deter your child from developing a habit of using electronics, provide them with healthier outlets to expend their energy.
  • Rather than letting them play online games, teach them games such as sudoku, puzzles, memory, blue block, and more. You can also include family playtime for 1-2 hours a day where you play games such as Monopoly, Connect 4, Battleship, Chess, etc.
  • Reduce the dependence on online videos and courses for educating your child. Instead buy books covering the same topics or print information.
  • Help Them Find a Hobby: Not only will a hobby help your child be engaged for the better part of the day but also help them learn new skills. The best way to assist your child in finding a hobby is to expose them to various activities on a regular basis, such as reading books, enrolling them in dance/music classes, photography, drawing, painting, etc.

 

  • Encourage Physical Activity: As reported by the CDC, children between 3-5 years should remain physically active throughout the day. While those between 6-17 years need at least 60 minutes of activity each day. Here’s a list of outdoor activities you can choose to include in your child’s routine:
      • Riding a bike
      • Running of jogging (you can even join them for a few minutes of competitive fun!)
      • Swimming (when an adult is present to chaperone)
      • Gardening and planting flowers or vegetables
      • Sports football, basketball, soccer, etc.

If your child is in their teens, you can teach them body-weight exercises to practice each day.

The key to implementing these habits as part of your child’s routine is to start early, be consistent in your efforts, and serve as a role model by reducing your dependence on electronics as well.

 

LeafSpring School empowers children to discover their individual gifts and talents so they can learn early, live well, and lead.

 

 

Written by Virginia Cooper, contributor