A generation ago, parents worried about their children watching too much TV. Fast-forward to today – tablets, cellphones, computers – parents have even more to content with. Consider the following statistics:
- The average 8 to 10 year-old spends nearly eight hours a day on various media
- The average teenager spends more than 11 hours a day on media
- 75% of 12 to 17 year-olds own cell phones
- 71% of children and teenagers have TVs in their bedrooms
- 84% of children and teenagers have Internet access
There is no question that American children and teenagers are plugged in for many more hours than experts consider healthy. Heavy use of electronics can have significant negative effects on children’s behavior, health and school performance. It’s up to parents to pull the pull on the screen addiction and here are some strategies for your family to detox digitally:
- Institute at least one screen free day a week. Also, devise a technology/digital that the entire family follows.
- Remove TVs and computers from all bedrooms – including your own.
- Eat meals together and forbid the use of electronics during mealtime. It’s important to connect with each other, and if everyone is looking at their phones that will not happen.
- If you have teenagers, install an app that disables cell phone use while the car is running, as accident rates increase when drivers are texting.
- Ban cell phone use after 8 p.m. Focus on getting a restful night’s sleep.
- Help your children find other ways to have fun. Go to a park, play a board game or make crafts together.
Most importantly, be cognizant of how often you’re on a screen. If you’re constantly on your phone, your kids won’t understand why they should get off their screens.