How Much Screen Time is Too Much Screen Time?
Do you ever wish that the Internet and social media didn’t exist so you could spend some time as a family, without unnecessary distractions? Even though electronics are an important part of our lives and make a lot of things easier, too much is never healthy. But how to determine what ‘too much’ means and how to make positive changes? Keep reading to find out.
How Harmful is Screen Time?
Despite the stereotype that playing games or watching certain movies might make children more likely to display aggressive behaviour, the main concern is that screen time prevents them from engaging in other healthy activities, such as playing and socialising with their peers or developing their hobbies. It also encourages an inactive lifestyle; a study from 2015 investigated screen time habits of children from all over the world and found that screen time might increase sedentary behaviour. 
Another concern is that screen time might have a negative impact on a child’s sleep. Using electronics before bed might reduce the quality of sleep and result in tiredness. Findings from most research on the topic also show that screen time is linked to decreased amount of sleep. 
At the same time, several studies find that screen time has no negative impact on a child’s health. Since there are so many types of electronic devices that can be used for various different purposes, it’s difficult to assess if that’s the case or not. That’s why the key is moderation.
How to Tell if Too Much Screen Time is an Issue in Your Family?
First, consider what purpose your child uses screen time for. Just because they’re on their laptop most of the time doesn’t mean that time isn’t well-spent; they might be using it to study or read. Next, consider if screen time might be affecting your child’s sleep; if they keep staying up late and seem tired all the time it might be a sign that they’re overusing their electronics. Lastly, do you feel like the screen time limits your family time? If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to call a family meeting and talk things through. When you do, remember to:
1. Pick the right moment to start the conversation
Make sure that every family member is fully focused and not scrolling on their phones at the same time. Keep your emotions at bay; if you’re feeling annoyed about your child’s screen time, the conversation is more likely to turn into an argument so it’s best to postpone it.
2. Create a plan and set boundaries
If you’re concerned about children’s screen time, consider setting a time limit. For example, you might allow up to 3 hours of recreational use or restrict the use before bedtime. You might also set additional rules, such as putting phones away when you’re spending time as a family. If you have a partner, make sure they’re on board with the rules and reinforce them too.
3. Consider ergonomics
Your child might spend a lot of time in front of their laptop because they use it for studying or writing essays. While it might be impossible to significantly reduce screen time, it’s always possible to prevent the potential damage to their bodies. Consider investing in an ergonomic keyboard and a chair to help them avoid repetitive stress injury and back problems.
If your child’s behaviour concerns you and you find it difficult to talk to them about it, contact My Family Psychologist to see how we can help