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Posts Tagged ‘screen addiction’

As the parent of a one-year old, I sometimes feel like my husband and I find ourselves playing a game of “hide the smart phone” with our son. We try to keep our phones out of sight because the moment he sees one, he grabs for it and wants to play with it. I’m sure many parents of young children can relate!

Earlier this year, a colleague of mine sent me an article titled “Is Secondhand Screen Time the New Secondhand Smoking?” This article certainly has an eye-catching title that may seem extreme to some. While I think this article has some valid points, I want to acknowledge up front that screens are not inherently evil, and the author of this article is not saying that a parent’s use of a screen is the same as a parent’s choice to smoke. Unlike smoking, screens have many useful and necessary functions in our world today, and it would be unreasonable to stop using them altogether.

What is concerning about parents’ screen use is that – like smoking – screens can be addictive.

When parents “read the news, check email, text friends or scan social media parenting groups… kids, even babies, notice these habits. They see parents reach again and again for a seemingly magical object that glints and flashes, makes sounds and shows moving images. Who wouldn’t want such a wonderful plaything? Trouble is, if the desire for a phone builds in infancy, it can become second nature.”

As I watch my own son grow and develop, I am becoming ever more aware of how I am always on stage for him. He is constantly watching what I say and do and learning how to interact with the world through me. Consequently, I have become much more mindful about how, when and where I use my smart phone. I have made a conscious effort to refrain from checking email or social media at times when I could be interacting or engaging in unplugged playtime with him, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This effort has necessitated a shift in my media use habits. I check apps less often and only during certain times of the day. To help lessen the temptation to pick up my phone while with my son, I also turned off all non-essential notifications such as those for email and social media. Currently, the only notifications I receive are for phone calls and text messages.

Still, there are times when my husband or I need to use a smart phone in the presence of our son. In these occasions, some experts suggest narrating your actions to your children, whether you are ordering diapers or checking the weather. When parents take time to explain how they use their screens, and when they mindfully consider their use of screens in the first place, they help children learn to interact with technology in a healthy way.

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by:  Donna Green, Retired Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Erie County

Sources:

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

Caron, C. (2019). Ask NYT Parenting: I use my phone for everything. Is that harming my kids? https://parenting.nytimes.com/culture/phones-parents

Powers-Barker, P. (2019). Congratulations! You are a role model. Live Smart Ohio. https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/family-and-relationships/powers-barker-1osu-edu/congratulations-you-are-a-role-model/ Renstrom, J. (2020).

Is secondhand screen time the new secondhand smoking? The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/is-secondhand-screen-time-the-new-secondhand-smoking-129500

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screen addiction
Has technology, or more specifically use of technology, become a concern for you? According to a recent study, most people spend five hours on their computer daily. They also spend four hours watching television and just over two hours on their smartphones or tablets. Those multiple viewings add up to over 11 hours spent every day in front of a screen.
Nearly 50% of the time spent on these electronic devices is dedicated to entertainment, such as listening to music or streaming television shows. The average American household has 2.9 televisions. Most of us have at least one computer and are connected to the internet. We go online to shop, pay bills, check the weather, watch videos, play games, download music, read, and connect.
In addition, Americans send more than a billion text messages each day. Last year, the average American cell phone user either sent or received nearly 400 texts per month.
Once a tranquil place to reflect and to look through books at the library, it’s most popular service is now the internet connection. The sound in the library is now the tapping of computer keys.
Do you easily succumb to a beep of a newly arrive email or text? If you do, then you are part of the increasing phenomenons in history – screen addiction.
Calculating Your Personal Usage
If you are sincere about reducing screen time, you need to take an honest look at your personal usage.
1. Count the number of screens in your life. Calculate how much time you spend on each screen. How was that time spent? Was a large percentage used for what you consider “important” (for example, paying bills), or “leisure” (just surfing the web)?
2. How many texts do you send and receive per day? How many of those texts make a valuable contribution to your life?
3. How much television do you watch?
4. How many times do you check your email?
Reducing the Addiction
On the weekend, consider implementing a day at home to unplug all gadgets. Imagine the increase in conversations and outdoor activities. Put a limit on your recreational internet use. Limit the number of texts you send each day. Check your email only once per hour or once a night. Enjoy your meals screen free.
Not only is spending too much time in front of a screen unhealthy, it also means we often miss out on the very real world that’s around us. Recently, a friend shared that her children have begun texting each other inside the house. If this is not the value system you envisioned for your family, start today to set boundaries to limit the amount of time everyone spends in front of a screen.
References:
http://www.psychguides.com/…/computerinternet-addiction-symptoms-causes-.

Written by: Beth Stefura, M Ed, RD,LD. Ohio State University Extension Educator, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA, stefura.2@osu.edu
Reviewed by: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu

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