Jessica Butts, Licensed Clinical Social Worke, wrote in the Healthy Driven Chicago blog that according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids ages 8-18 spend an average of 7.5 hours per day in front of a screen for entertainment. This number does not include time spent with a screen for school or educational purposes.
There’s no question that now, more than ever before, screens play a big role in our lives. People of all ages rely on their screens to connect with others and get information, and for entertainment purposes.
The amount of screen time kids get should be based on age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours of screen time for kids and teens. Children younger than two years old should not have any screen time; if they do, it should be very limited and have an educational purpose.
There’s a reason lower amounts of screen time are recommended for kids. Spending too much time with a screen can lead to:
- Vision issues
- Increased risk for being overweight or obese
- Decreased muscle tone, coordination, and flexibility
- Stunted communication skills
- Reduced empathy for others
- Agitation and restlessness
Under your guidance, it’s possible for kids to spend less time with their screens. Try these seven ideas:
- Set a schedule – Have specific times when your kids can use their screens. For example, after they finish their homework, they can use their screens before dinner. Kids thrive on routine and having a set schedule to use their screens helps them wisely use their time.
- Use a tracking app – It can be difficult for parents to keep track of how long their kids are spending on their screens. A tracking app can do that for you and can even set limits that will turn the device off after a predetermined amount of time. Just make sure you give your kids a heads up that this will happen so they are prepared.
- Encourage other activities – Take some of the things your kids love to do online and move them to real life. For example, if your kids like to play games online, replace it with a chessboard, puzzles or art activities. It’s also a good idea to encourage regular physical activity. Schedule time as a family to take a walk after dinner or go for a weekly bike ride.