As technology arises, screen time for children has increased, and the pandemic has only hastened this worrisome trend. Most kids spend their waking hours in front of phones, tablets, TV, and other screens. Although many parents try to set a reasonable limit, most children often respond with tantrums, frustration, or straight anger whenever turning the screen off.
To help you and your kids out, let's explore the various tips and strategies for preventing and managing post-screen-time issues.
What is the Average Screen Time for Children Today?
In today's digitally-inclined world, screen time for children occurs at an early age. A research study from the University of Washington found that over 40% of 3-month-old infants regularly watch television. And the CDC discovered the following about today's kids and their screen time:
- Children ages 8 to 10 get 6 hours of screen time per day.
- Pre-teens ages 11 to 14 get 9 hours of screen time every day.
- Young teens ages 15 to 18 get 7 1/2 hours of screen time daily.
Post Screen Time Meltdowns
Most parents are aware that the more screen time their children have, the more difficult it will be to tear them away from their gadgets. And the pandemic didn't help ease this at all, adding new layers of anger to the mix. Unfortunately, the limit of social interaction has resulted in emotional problems.
Kids express they miss their classmates, friends, and even teachers. As a result, they experience extreme sadness and anger, leading to emotional meltdowns and outbursts.
What Causes Post Screen Time Meltdowns?
Several studies have linked excess screen time to school issues and mental health problems among kids. And this shouldn't be surprising as over-stimulation often lowers a child's ability to focus while depleting their mental energy. Meanwhile, in worst-case scenarios, children may mentally suffer to the point where they seek depression treatment.
Aside from that, behavioral problems may also arise from the following:
- A lack of human interaction with friends and family
- Have less time participating in more relaxing and productive activities such as arts and crafts or reading
- A lack of physical activity affects the overall mood
- The lack of outdoor exposure, limiting time with friends playing outside
- Disruption of sleep leads to mood disturbance and cognitive problems
As parents, we don’t want our kids to depend on synthetic medicines to treat health issues because of their adverse effects in the long run. The good news is that there are treatment methods today that don’t require drugs; one is neurofeedback therapy. Using neurofeedback, a safe and effective technology, allows kids to focus, learn, and better control their behavior.
How to Manage Post Screen Time Frustration and Meltdowns?
The best way to handle post-screen time frustration is to be consistent, set expectations, and push through. Here are some things you can do to help your child after screen time:
- Set a regular and strict schedule when they can use their gadgets or watch TV.
- Give your children a countdown, like warning them fifteen before their screen time ends, as most don't keep track of how much time has passed by.
- Be firm and don't stray away from the schedule and rules when it's time to end screen time.
- Establish a reward and penalty system to motivate your child to stick to their scheduled screen time.
- You can download an app to help you keep track of your child's screen time remotely. Some may also automatically shut down Wi-Fi access to your child's device at your set times.
What are the Common Warning Signs of Screen Addiction?
If you can't seem to tell if your child is addicted to their gadgets or not, here are common warning signs of screen addiction in children to watch out for:
- Their smartphones, tablets, or other gadgets are the first thing they look for when waking up and before bed.
- Your child shows health issues such as strained eyes or back pain.
- Children addicted to screens may display withdrawal symptoms like temper tantrums when you ask them to turn off their gadgets.
- Your child doesn't enjoy other activities other than using gadgets.
What's the Recommended Screen Time for Children?
Most parents would agree that we shouldn't let our kids have too much screen time. But, how much exactly is all right, and is not? Generally, the AAP suggests avoiding screen exposure for kids younger than two years old, except when video chatting with relatives.
Aside from that, the AAP also suggests limiting screen time for children ages two to five to an hour a day of top-quality education programming. Meanwhile, parents should set consistent and firm boundaries for kids six and beyond, like staying screen-free during lunch or dinner.
Monitor What Your Child is Watching and Teach Them About It
Aside from following the recommended amount of screen time for children, the content also matters! To maximize daily screen time and prevent behavioral issues, here's what you can do as a parent:
- If your child is old enough (at least five years old), educate them about online safety. Warn your kid about the dangers of hackers, scammers, and cyberbullies so they'd know when to click off.
- Download apps or sign up for services that can help monitor and control your child's screen time. Luckily, most internet providers include this feature as part of their service, so try to explore your plan.
- Strictly monitor what your children watch, especially if they're still very young. If their gadgets have passcodes, make sure to know them!
- Try to watch content together with your child. This allows you to monitor your little one while building and establishing a stronger parent-to-child connection.
- Show your children, especially younger ones, that screen time can be fun and educational! Show them programs such as PBS Kids or National Geographic for kids.
- Prohibit screen use in bedrooms and tell your child to charge their gadgets in another area in the house. It helps eliminate the temptation of staying up late with screens.
- Show your kids that screen time isn't all that by limiting your own!
Author: Jericho Miles