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In this post, we advise on how to effectively manage the screen time of your kids and discover the consequences on too much screen time for kids.
Children today are glued to a screen all day long. From the television to their PC, tablet, or smartphone.
Playing games, chatting, checking Facebook or Instagram,… From waking up in the morning to just before going to sleep, there is always a screen nearby.
But how does this affect their health? And how can parents protect their kids by limiting screen time?
Nowadays, screens are a new challenge for parents that not everyone knows how to deal with.
In the past, it was sufficient to determine until what time children were allowed to watch TV, but today they have their smartphone or tablet fixed all day long.
Of course, these devices have a lot of good effects on the development of your children, but they can also be quite harmful to health. As a parent, you would do well to watch over how your children use monitors.
Agreements about what time your children may play outside have made way for the number of hours that the son or daughter can access the tablet or smartphone.
But how best to approach this as a parent? In this post, we advise on how to effectively manage the screen time of your kids.
What are the consequences of too much screen time for kids?
For most children, the screen time would therefore be better somewhat limited. Especially when you see the negative consequences of excessive use of screens:
Being overweight is one of the major health problems of the current generations. And screens are of course responsible for that.
They don’t use the time children spend in front of a screen to move. In addition, there is a great tendency to also eat sweets or drink very sugary drinks. And that means that children are becoming increasingly obese on average.
2. Sleeping problems
Staring at a screen is not good for the quality of sleep. Moreover, we prefer to quickly set up a series when we have to go to sleep.
Children also leave for dreamland much later. According to studies, one child in five would not sleep more than seven hours due to excessive use of screens, which of course is not enough at all.
3. Relational problems
Screens sometimes also have a detrimental effect on the rest of the family. Parents and children communicate less and less, while young people need those conversations to develop verbally.
If your kids don’t communicate enough at home, they also run the risk of having problems outside the family circle. For example at school or in their professional life.
4. Bad School Outcomes
This may sound a bit like a cliché, but a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics confirms that school results deteriorate when children sit in front of a screen too often.
After all, there is a great temptation to watch TV or YouTube instead of doing their homework. In the long term, this also damages their ability to concentrate.
5. Exposure to sex, drugs, and alcohol
Not only screens are harmful, but also the content that children view with them is sometimes a problem. Certainly, on social media, you barely have control over what your kids see.
From violent messages and videos to racist language. Producers of alcohol also like to use the internet to advertise.
It is overflowing with images that are actually not suitable for the eyes of young children.
What is healthy then?
Of course you don’t have to deny your children access to screens, but you can make a few agreements about it.
American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation for screen time for kids:
“Avoid digital media for toddlers younger than 18 to 24 months other than video chatting. For children 18 to 24 months, watch digital media with them because they learn from watching and talking with you. Limit screen use for preschool children, ages 2 to 5, to just 1 hour a day of high-quality programming.”
8 Golden tips to limit screen time for kids
All well and good, but how do you start this as a parent? To help you out, we’ve collected a few helpful tips.
1. Compile a timetable
An easy way to manage your children’s activities is to put together a schedule. For example, you can choose a few moments when the use of screens is prohibited.
Just think of the morning, while sleeping or at the table during the evening meal. Parents and children can talk extensively about their day, especially during meals, so make sure there is no screen nearby.
2. Plan activities with your family
Not only do you have to make use of valuable family time at the table, but you are also well-advised to organize activities. When someone looks at a screen too much, they become isolated from their environment.
For example, plan a trip with the kids once a month, go out for dinner, or take a walk. And of course, make sure that the smartphones and tablets are stored as well as possible during these moments.
3. Play with your children
Games are an important reason why children are glued to a screen for hours. So why not play a game with your kids yourself.
Especially with small children, it should not be a problem to find toys that have nothing to do with a screen.
This may be more difficult for slightly older children. From Lego to dolls, small cars, or balloons. Whatever you choose, your child will not be inclined to watch a video on YouTube while playing.
4. Impose a nighttime limitation on smartphones
We all do it from time to time: just before we go to sleep in bed, check our profiles on social media. Maybe there is another message or video that you do not want to have missed.
A bad habit, because it can wait until the next day. Chances are we will sleep worse because we insisted on scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. At worst, someone sends us a message and we are still busy an hour later.
So set a good example for your children and avoid the temptation to reach for their smartphone when you think they are already asleep.
So definitely forbid their smartphones in the bedroom and feel free to put them away for a while before they go to sleep. Make this a habit and you will teach them the right attitudes in advance.
5. Do not put a television in your children’s room
Just about every child’s dream is to have their own television set in their room, but that is not a good idea. This way you will no longer have control over their screen time.
Before you realize it, they are still binge-watching series on Netflix at midnight. They can put their smartphone or tablet away, you cannot just take a television away every night.
So let them use the large TV in your living room. This way you also ensure that they spend more time with the rest of the family.
6. Set a good example yourself
If you want your children to listen, you should set a good example for them yourself. So try to use your smartphone or tablet as little as possible when the children are around.
Especially very small children will be less inclined to copy your behavior by wanting to grab your smartphone yourself. Once the kids are in bed, you still have plenty of time to check out what your friends have been up to on Facebook.
7. Don’t give in
Even if you make good arrangements with your children, they will always try to decorate a little more screen time.
Then you must keep the leg stiff. Want to watch one more movie before bedtime? Play Fortnite for another five minutes? If you have clear rules, you should never give in.
After a while, they will probably give up. Moreover, you teach them to better use their screen time.
8. Don’t switch channels constantly in front of your kids
Finally, good advice: try not to switch from channel to channel in front of your children.
Discuss in advance which program you want to watch and put yourself together in the seat.
TV, smartphones, tablets,… They have made our lives so much more fun. Use them in moderation, and do it as much as possible with your kids.
Finally, the best thing to do to minimize your child’s screen time is to encourage as many alternative activities as possible. Build a cabin together in the forest or read a nice children’s book. This way your children will also see that there is a lot of fun to be had without a display.
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