We truly live in a golden age of technological advancements. With more access to information and media than ever before, we all spend so much time soaking it up. Therefore, creating a healthy balance of screen time for kids can be difficult.
Statistics show that more people are working from home than ever before, with that number steadily on the rise. Jobs in the public sector are slowly being replaced by computers.
A decade ago, mobile devices were just beginning to provide efficient email and social media access. Now, we have the capability of monitoring our home security cameras and even unlocking our car doors right from our phones.
But as with every good thing, there’s always an asterisk by the fine print: Good in moderation.
Excessive screen time is becoming endemic in America’s children. According to the CDC, children are spending anywhere from six to nine hours a day on screens. While many may tout this as a sign of the times, the problem lies in the long-term effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
Screen Time Affects Health
Children who are looking at a screen for hours at a time are less likely to lead an active lifestyle. Whether they are watching television, playing video games, or interacting on social media, they aren’t getting any exercise. Creating a routine for kids that includes cardiovascular activities is best for long-term health.
When looking at screens, we are subjected to an increased amount of advertisements. Research has shown that junk food advertisements geared toward children have a negative influence over both their food preferences and eating habits. See chips, eat chips; it’s a vicious cycle that advertisements bank on.
The “blue light” emitted from screens can impede the release of melatonin, the hormone that helps us fall asleep. A lack of enough sleep can cause difficulty learning in school, as well as serious health problems in children as they grow older.
Inability to Focus and Inhibiting Imagination
Studies have shown that ADHD and an inability to focus can be directly related to excessive screen time usage. In addition, screen time can inhibit a child’s creativity and imagination, rendering them incapable of coping with and being productive when experiencing boredom.
Screen Time Guidelines
Make Room for an Active Lifestyle
Getting your child involved in activities that get them up and moving will help combat both obesity and other health problems. Create a routine away from screens that involves exercise and movement.
Gymnastics, team sports, and swimming are all great places to start. Swimming is not only a good aerobic activity it’s a necessary safety skill.
Putting your phone down or turning off the TV might be difficult at night, but it’s a great habit to put into practice. Sleep helps our entire body. It aids in brain function, mood, and alertness. Sleep also lowers the risk of health problems including diabetes and heart disease.
Leading an active lifestyle inherently improves one’s sleep quality. Incorporating physical activities as a part of your routine will help you put away screens at night and get some much-needed rest.
Improved Focus and Imagination
Exercise doesn’t just make your body stronger; it makes you smarter. Working out regularly and consistently can improve both memory and your ability to focus.
For children, incorporate the appeal of the very thing they obsess over to garner more interest in physical activities. If they like watching TV, encourage them to pretend to be Aquaman or a mermaid in the pool. If they like games such as Roblox, help them recreate their favorite worlds in real life.
The key is to encourage them to be the things they enjoy seeing on a screen, rather than passively watching.
Good News for Parents
The good news for parents is that it’s not too late to break the cycle of habitual, obsessive screen time usage. The good news for kids is, screen time in moderation also has its benefits. They can still have the best of both worlds: indulging in occasional screen time while staying healthy, growing strong, and expanding their minds.