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teen and technology

If you have a teenager in your home, they are probably celebrating the start of their summer break.  This can mean they stay up later, sleep in longer and relax more.  Like other working parents, you may be dreading the extra-long gaming sessions and screen time that your kiddos may be planning over the summer.

Here are a few tips from media experts on how to tune down the technology and keep the peace in your house for the next 12 weeks and beyond:

  1. Dr. Jenny Radesky, the lead author of the most recent update of the Guidelines on Media and Children from the American Academy of Pediatrics, has a “no media on weekdays” rule. Dr. Radesky states “I try to help my older son be aware of the way he reacts to video games or how to interpret information we find online.” For example, she tries to explain how he is being manipulated by games that ask him to make purchases while playing.
  2. Lauren Hale, a sleep researcher at Stony Brook University in New York, suggests limiting the use of devices at least one hour before bedtime. This gives your brain time to “turn off” and relax, which will promote better sleep. According to Hale, “when kids watch or use screens at night, bedtime gets delayed.” Additionally, “when it takes longer to fall asleep, sleep quality is reduced and total sleep time is decreased.”
  3. Dr. Tom Warshawski, a pediatrician in Canada and founder of the Childhood Obesity Foundation, puts an emphasis on limiting technology by promoting the  5- 2- 1- 0 formula. That means each day includes: five servings of fruits and vegetables, no more than two hours of screen time, one hour of physical activity, and no sugary beverages.

Other screen time tips include:

  • Set firm limits on usage by making a technology schedule. Allow your teen to help with the details so everyone can agree.
  • Limit the number of devices available to your teen while you are working.
  • Limit the amount of free time that technology can eat up by signing them up for camps, volunteering, or even working.
  • Practice safe technology use by implementing rules such as remaining anonymous, using nicknames rather than your real name, reporting messaging or chats that make you feel uncomfortable to an adult, and protecting your passwords.
  • Turn off all screens during family meals
  • Turn off all screens at bedtime, keep devices with screens out of your teen’s bedroom after bedtime, and don’t allow a TV in your teen’s bedroom.
  • Research video and computer games before letting your teen get them. Check ratings from the Entertainment Software Rating Board.  Ratings can run from EC (meaning “early childhood”) to AO (meaning “adults only”). Teens probably should be limited to games rated T (for “teens”) or younger.

References

American Academy of Pediatrics (2018). Children and Media Tips. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Children-and-Media-Tips.aspx

Ben-Joseph, E.P. (2016). Screen Time Guidelines for Big Kids. Kids Health from Nemours. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/screentime-bigkids.html?ref=search

Common Sense Media. Screen Time. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/screen-time

Child Obesity Foundation. What Every Family Can Do: The 5-2-1-0 Formula. https://childhoodobesityfoundation.ca/families/simple-steps-families-can-take/#tab-id-2

Kamenetz, A. (2018). What Families Need to Know About Screen Time This Summer. NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/07/09/625387830/what-families-need-to-know-about-screen-time-this-summer

Written by: Heather Reister, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Butler County

Reviewed by: Bridget Britton, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Carroll County

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