Screen Time For Children – 5 Effects And 5 Rules

How much is too much screen time?

‘How much screen time’ is a debate that rages hotly and VERY LOUDLY in many family homes, or perhaps only ours. I am sure the neighbours would agree that if not just us we could win prizes for our volume.

It’s a difficult one because often the consequences are hidden. Unlike the debate; how much wine is too much wine? This is an easy one; generally, if you fall down, that’s a fairly good indicator you’ve had too much.

Some of the physical factors that can occur with too much time in front of screens are:

  1. Brain shrinkage – explains a lot.
  2. Metabolic syndrome – caused by the sedentary life style too much screen time can lead too.
  3. One survey suggests there is an increased likely hood of dying earlier than is normal – and not just due to the sedentary lifestyle. In other words it doesn’t matter how much extra exercise you do if you are in front of screens a lot, you’re popping off earlier than expected.
  4. Eye strain – blue screen can damage the retina. Not one person in this house has escaped the ‘four eyes’ tag.
  5. Social problems due to lack of face to face interaction – I wonder, does that include not listening to or doing what your mother asks you to do?

I can spend a whole day staring at my laptop, tablet, or phone. In fact frustration can kick in when I have to get off to cook a meal or go to the toilet. For god’s sake that’s what baked beans and nappies are for are they not?

With tablets, phones, online TV and apps like music.ly it also difficult getting Molly and Lulu to limit their time on screen. I’ve even heard them talking to each other in American accents. What the heck?

We have rules however about which there is no debate.

  1. No devices in bedrooms unless listening to music or reading and if that is the case I monitor it.
  2. Phones are plugged in by eight at night away from bedrooms.
  3. I make sure there is a reasonably healthy mix of device and physical and mental activities.
  4. Definitely no devices until they are completely ready for school.
  5. Homework and extra-curricular studies always come first. I don’t get sucked into allowing a break when they get home except to have a quick snack. I know they have already been on their device on the bus coming home. That’s break enough!

It can be difficult but set down rules early on so that they become second nature. During holidays and the weekend I find it hard keeping the routine from going to pot but find that confiscation works best. If rules are forgotten a whole day minus all screens is a great reminder.

We are still discovering how this online life we lead is affecting our social, physical and mental health. Until we know more it’s important to try and keep a healthy balance. Make sure you:

  1. Have whole days minus screens
  2. Get plenty of exercise
  3. Take plenty of breaks
  4. Eat healthily
  5. Sit correctly, or stand if you can

Good luck with your balancing act.

Do you have any tips for getting teenagers to adhere to the rules around screen time?

 

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