According to a recent study, nearly 40% of children under 2 years old have used smart phones and tablets (up from just 10% two years ago) and about 75% of kids up to age 8 have used those devices (twice as many as in 2011). An average 8 to 18 year old looks at a screen around 7.5 hours a day. That is the equivalent of 114 days out of the year and 68 of those days are also spent solely watching television. Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's Medical Director of Child Wellness, Dr. Stephanie Walsh provides parents tips on dialing down their family's screen time.
1. Turn Off All Screens 30 Minutes Before Bedtime (TV, phones, handheld devices, etc.): Not only will this help kids begin to settle down for bed, it’ll also help limit their overall screen time for the day.
2. Replace Screen Time with Activity: It’s hard to get kids off the couch and get them moving, especially if they think of physical activity as “exercise” or “boring." So, sometimes we need to get creative and make moving fun for kids. Check out these ideas for fun indoor and outdoor activities.
3. Ban Hand-Held Devices from the Bedroom: The burst of light from a phone (even if it’s just to check the time) can break a sleep cycle. A regular alarm clock is best. Additionally, getting devices out of the bedroom means kids can’t text, call or play at all hours of the night.
4. No Screens During Meals: Being distracted by phones, handheld devices and TV shows during mealtime can not only lead to overeating, but additional unneeded screen time. Use mealtime instead as an opportunity to connect with your family.
5. Be a Role Model: Parents, you are the role models in your home, so set a good example when it comes to screen time. Lead by example and encourage (but don’t shame) your kids to do the same.