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small child staring at a smartphone

As a mom with three little children, I find it easy at times to use my smartphone or tablet to help entertain my children while I am trying to accomplish specific tasks. It is very convenient when we are standing in line somewhere or I need to distract them for a few minutes.  However, I know that I should have screen time limits for my kids. How much is too much?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends preschoolers use screens no more than 1 to 2 hours a day. In today’s tech world that includes watching TV, working on a computer, playing video games, or streaming videos, games, apps or websites on smartphones or tablets.

Screen Time Effect

  • Harder to fall asleep at night
  • Raise risk for attention problems, anxiety and depression
  • Raise risk for gaining too much weight

Not all screen time is bad. Good screen time would be playing an interactive educational game together or watching educational programming where you are talking and reflecting with your child on what you are watching.

General Tips

  • Sit with your child during screen time and interact with them
  • Do your research before you allow them to play a game or download an app
  • Have plenty of non-screen time scheduled throughout the day
  • Keep screens out of your child’s bedroom especially at bedtime

Screen time rules will be similar to other parenting rules you might have – set a good example, establish limits, and talk with your child about it.

As your child grows and technology changes you will need to change your approach and rules in regards to screen time, as a one-size-fits-all approach will not work well.

Sources:

Kids Health. (2019). Screen Time Guidelines for Preschoolers. Retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/screentime-preschool.html

MedlinePlus. (2019, May 17). Screen time and children. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000355.htm

Thompson, D. (2019, January 28). Can Too Much Screen Time Hinder Child Development? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/recharge/features/limiting-tv-preschoolers#1

Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

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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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