Limiting Screen Time is the Key to Better Life Balance for Your Kids
TVs, computers, iPads, cell phones … the list of digital devices available to today's kids is endless. It's no surprise that kids are spending more time than ever before using these devices, and why parents are concerned that it is often too much and may be harmful.
Excessive screen time with kids has been linked to weight gain, eye strain and neck pain, cyberbullying and decreased in-person interaction. Many parents also notice behavioral changes like irritability, moodiness and selfishness. That's why it is a good idea to put some limits on how long kids can use devices, what devices they can use and what activities or programs they can access. Limiting screen time has been linked to better sleep habits, improved physical and mental health, better social skills and improved academic performance.
While the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) indicates that there is no magic number of screen time hours that's right for every child, it's important that there is a balance between their screen time and other parts of life like connecting with family and friends, spending time outdoors and getting adequate sleep.
During the cold winter months, it can be difficult to spend lots of time outdoors, but activities like walking around the block, tossing a ball or snow-related fun like ice skating, building a snowman or going sledding are all good options. If cold weather keeps everyone indoors, keep your kids busy with Legos, puzzles, crafts, board games and reading. A little window shopping at the mall also is a good way to get away from the screens and get a little exercise, too.
Here are some tips to help reduce your child's screentime:
- Be the example by modeling the behavior you want to see in your kids by reducing your own TV, phone and internet time.
- Limit screen time by requiring homework and other daily activities to be completed first.
- Encourage your kids to participate in other activities from outdoor and indoor sports to dance and music.
- Spend time doing things with your kids, including going for a walk or hike, watching movies as a family or playing board games.
Reducing your kids' screen time might be a daunting task at first, but the benefits of keeping life balanced is well worth the effort.