Conscious Parenting: How Much is Too Much Screen Time
With everything being digital and centered around some form of computing device, it is hard to know how much screen time is too much. From homework, to video games, to watching cool youtube videos, to talking (ahem texting) with friends, to sharing on social media and everything in between – even list making – we use our computers, phones, tablets or whatever electronic medium to get it done, and so do our children.
So how can we realistically know how much is too much? What kind of example are we setting ourselves? Just how much time do we spend as parents online in one form or another?
The average adult has up to 8 hours a day of various types of screen time, studies showed in 2016. This includes tv, phones, computer, tablets, video games, all electronics.
Stop and think about your own day, realistically. How often do you refer to your phone or tablet or computer? When you talk to your kids, is your phone in your hand?
Studies also show that our children are losing their ability for cognitive thinking. They have trouble understanding depths and measurements because of their increased time looking at a virtual world instead of the real world. They are losing their ability to focus on tasks and their interest to do things in the real world.
The dangers of too much screen time for children are real, we know that. Click here for a great infographic on the health risks.
So as conscious parents, how can we be realistic with knowing how much is too much screen time for our children?
How Much Is Too Much Screen Time
That is the question. Everyone is saying something different but not far off from this: under 2 years shouldn’t be at all. In Taiwan, parents can be fined heavily if caught allowing their children under 2 in front of any type of screen! Other countries also have bans for children under 3 or 2. Children 2-5 no more than 1 hour a day. Over 6 years of age it is recommended that there should be no more that 2 consecutive hours of screen time at a time and no more than 3 hours a day – even for adults.
Let’s be honest. Keeping your infants away from the screen can be very challenging. And I don’t think there is any harm in letting them watch a 10-minute educational baby show every now and again because really that is about all of the time it will keep their attention anyway!! But plunking your baby in front of the tv for the day is not a great idea…!! So here are my tips on adjusting your screen time and setting boundaries for your children with their screen time.
How To Set Screen Time Boundaries
- Set family screen time rules together with your family. If you have littles, be aware of the harm screen time can cause your children and be conscious of it. I get needing 10 minutes and utilizing a show, but balance that with activity and actual interaction with your little. For older kids, talk to them about the dangers of too much screen time. The harm it can cause to their eyes, that the blue light they emit stimulates us, keeping us awake, and their loss of ability to focus and cognitive damage. Help them understand how to keep themselves healthy and talk about your family habits with them. Together, set realistic rules on how much time each of you should spend looking at a screen. There are apps to help parents keep tabs on their amount of time, many are free to download and utilize. As a conscious parent, I have done this with my children and do my best to stick to it. However, we do have days of a little more screen time balanced by several days with no screen time at all. I also do not count homework screen time, because they are focused, looking for answers, learning to type and about technology, which is also important. I try not to be too hard about it, but always aware of it, limiting our exposure, balancing with other activities.
- Review their access points. There should be no electronics in their bedrooms, it just isn’t good for any of us – read this post on why here. A great way to set screen time boundaries is to minimize access points. Meaning set up laptop stations in the kitchen for each kid, and have one main family tv with the video games attached to that. This will help the kids learn that their bedrooms are for sleeping/reading, the kitchen area for eating/working and the living room for relaxing and having screen time, building healthy family habits.
- Be a good role model. Set healthy, conscious boundaries for yourself. Be conscious when you are with your children to put your phone down, address them eye to eye, interact with them and show them that you also unplug and practice what you preach! Engage with them, travel with them, enlighten them on how to lead a healthy conscious life by leading one yourself. Share the love and pin this:
- Create a Boredom Bucket List. Not sure what else you could be doing? No problem, sit with your kids and make a boredom bucket list of crafts, activities, parks, destinations, games that you have been meaning to get to. Start planning a trip together (here are my tips on how to book a family vacation online); when you are out grab the supplies you will need for the majority of your projects and keep them handy; and plan a few outings to local parks or some bike/scooter/skateboard time. When it is time to shut the show off, tempt them with something from the bucket list. It may be a slow start, but it will be fun and get easier and easier! As you check things off, add new!
- Create a chore list and offer screen time only once chores and homework are done. Or say one show, one chore giving them a healthy break from screen time. It may be a pain, but they will do it faster and happier knowing they will be getting some screen time while learning how to take care of the basic needs of life. Every kid needs this.
What are your great tips to set conscious screen time rules? How much is too much screen time? Share in the comments below, we would love to read them!
Cheers and conscious parenting!
Malibu Mama Loves, Xxx