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As we live in an increasingly digitized age, we spend a lot of time on our mobile devices and it is sometimes not a surprise that our children, as well, invest many hours in front of their devices.
According to a recent survey conducted by Common Sense Media, teenagers spent an average of just under 7 and a half hours of screen time every day on online media entertainment. Similar findings were reported in another study, where a large percentage (83%) of teenagers owned a smartphone and spent about 21 hours every week in front of their phone screens only.
As a parent, looking at these statistics may cause you to worry about your child’s health and it is natural that you would want to limit the amount of screen time that they have. In that case, how much screen time should children have then?
Setting Screen Time Limits
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According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it is important that parents set consistent limits on the amount of screen time that their child is allowed. The World Health Organization has recently published a report detailing the recommended daily screen time limits that children should have based on their age group. The report showed that children aged younger than 2 years should not be exposed to any screen time at all, and those aged 2 to 5 years should only have a maximum of 1 hour of screen time daily. For children aged 6 years and older, the American Heart Association recommends that children only be exposed to a maximum of 2 hours of screen time per day.
Like Parent, Like Child
Admittedly, this step is not as simple as it sounds, especially when your child protests: What about you? Don’t you use your phone a lot as well?
Indeed, it is hard to control our children’s screen time when we, as parents, do not set a good example for them. So, when we set certain rules for our children’s screen time, it is important that we become a good role model for our children by following these rules as well. Here are some tips that might help you set some screen time rules for your children.
Less screen time, more green time
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When your child is not occupied with their small screens, treat it as an opportunity to bond and spend time with them. For instance, something you can do with your child is to go outdoors and enjoy the greenery. You can take a stroll with them at a nearby park or go on a hike with them to explore the surrounding nature. Not to mention, engaging in green time is good for your child as it has been shown to mediate the effects of high screen time in teens and positively affect their health and general well-being.
Family Time Is No-Screen Time
As a general rule of thumb, it is commonly advised to switch off all screens when you are spending time as a family, be it during meals or participating in family activities. When your child sees that screen time rules apply to everyone in the family, this will help them to feel less alone or frustrated when they are not looking at theirs.
Use Parental Control Applications
Another approach that can be taken to initially help children adjust to this change in lifestyle would be to use parental control apps that have functions to set screen time limits in children’s devices. One such app is the planoApp, the world’s first science-based parental control app that allows parents to set periods of no screen time for their children and also help take care of their eye health.
It may be challenging in the beginning to implement these screen time rules especially when our children are accustomed to high screen time in this technologically driven age. However, setting these screen time limits is important in ensuring that our children’s health is not compromised in the future.