STATEWIDE — Managing your child’s screen time is a challenge, but there are healthy alternatives.
Having a screen in front of you has become a normal way of life.
Over the years, awareness has been spread on the negative effects for youths and excessive screen time.
In the past year, Zoom conferences and remote learning have led to more screen time for children and young adults.
The amount of time spent in front of a screen can have effects on sleep, emotional state, and physical fitness.
Chris McLaughlin is the Assistant Vice President for Community and Pediatric Services at Acadia Hospital.
“It’s much more important to be vigilant and to be aware of what impact that screen time is having on youth and just as importantly, what can families and caregivers do about it,” McLaughlin said.
Every child is different and it’s important to create a plan for substitute activities away from screens.
“We know so much of this right now is inevitable, there’s gonna be an increase in screen time as long as we are in these pandemic conditions,” said McLaughlin. “I encourage family and caregivers to make that schedule and stick to it.”
It’s also important to be the role model when trying to discuss the importance of screen time breaks, McLaughlin said.
“Don’t redirect your kid for spending so much time on their screen if your nose is in your own phone all the time and at the dinner table,” said McLaughlin. “If you’re going to create tech-free zones, you best be following those limits and rules, too.”
Having a plan and creating out-of-the-box ideas to keep busy is a great way for kids to continue evolving, but also allows them to step away from technology.
Dr. Rachelle Smith is a professor at Husson University’s College of Science and Humanities. She specializes in child development and teaches a wide variety of psychology courses.
“If you’re going to be pulling it away you want to replace it with healthier habits,” said Smith. “Instead of leaving it up to your child like you can no longer do this, instead give them other options.”
When it comes to teenagers and their social interactions, Smith said right now their mental health is extremely important.
“I would cut them some slack at this point. They are stressed out and they don’t have that peer interaction, most teenagers are focused on their peers and their friends at this age,” Smith.
One of the tougher challenges that take some time to adapt to is managing rewards versus punishment.
“Don’t use screens as a reward and don’t take them away as a punishment,” said Smith. “Have a set time you’re allowed to do it, maybe something you work out together.”
To learn more about activities and ideas for managing kids’ screen time, check out the studies and articles written on The Negative Effects Of Screen Time for Adults and Children.