As an aunt of an iPad-loving kid myself, I see the struggles my brother faces when it comes to controlling my nephew’s virtual intake. After all, parents are always trying their best to find a practical approach to developing and moderating their child’s screen time habits in a way that’s healthy for them and their entire family. However, managing screen time isn’t just something parents need to do for their kids, but also something they need to do for themselves.
It starts at home.
According to studies, parents who are distracted by phones and other digital devices tend to interact less with their kids, making the kids feel unimportant or not good enough. Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine noted distracted parents had “20 percent less conversation with their children and 39 percent fewer non-verbal interactions.” Despite being physically present, the lack of response can lead to damage to your child’s social and emotional development. Research indicates: out of 608,000 children, 32 percent reported feeling “unimportant” when their parents use their devices. Children are always craving attention from adults; especially their parents. It is crucial to be present during meals, conversations, or other family times because the children reported feeling as if they were competing with technology for their parents’ attention.
This goes to show that parents don’t realize the huge impact they have on their children sometimes.
Understandably, it is extremely difficult to disconnect from online distractions. However, we must be mindful that connecting is very important for child development. It is best to keep some time dedicated specifically to your children and family. For instance, make a point of putting your phone away during mealtimes, and when spending quality time together as a family.
- As role models, children will look up to their parents and follow in their footsteps. Therefore, to ensure children develop healthy screen time habits is to model healthy habits themselves. Some ways to do this is by turning off screens when not in use. This can encourage kids to do the same. Also, communicating to your kids about what you’re doing when you’re on your cellphone may be beneficial. The purpose of this is to have them be aware that you are still present and engaging while looking away at your device for a moment.
Something to Remember:
Time on the screen doesn’t always have to be looked at as a negative thing. Our devices are important tools for many adults to get work done, connect, create, and learn. Being able to enjoy a little time to ourselves playing video games or watching movies once in a while is healthy too.
The key is to be mindful of our screen time and face-to-face time. We should be able to balance both time spent on screens with time spent engaging in in-person activities with the people who matter most to us.