The average young American now spends practically every waking minute—except for the time in school—using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Kids ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day with such devices. And since so many of them are multitasking — say surfing the internet while texting and/or chatting online — they pack on average nearly 11 hours of media content into those seven-and-a-half hours.
Heavy media use doesn’t just squash creativity and promote a sedentary lifestyle. Studies show that this behavior is associated with behavioral problems and lower grades. And even though multitasking has become a way of life, it can be detrimental: Distractions keep a child from learning new acts or concepts, and decrease the ability to remember what they’ve learned.
Some children stay up into the wee hours of the night texting with their friends, something parents are shocked to discover only after checking their cell phone bills. At this point, this behavior becomes a health issue and parents need to step in.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to limit screen time.
Do you need help:
Discovering how much screen time your child is engaged in — and setting some reasonable limits around it?
Knowing the appropriate age for your children to have a cell phone?
Understanding the most appropriate cell phone plans, for example where minutes and texting are limited and that doesn’t connect to the Internet?
Instituting a media-free rule during the school week?
Engaging your children in interesting things so they will be happy to put away their phones?
Learning how to be a good role model by limiting your own screen time?
Sandra Bryson, MFT, who helps parents raise good digital citizens, will help you with these issues and more so you will feel empowered to set clear, consistent and nurturing limits with your children and manage screen time for your entire family.