Screen time is the time we spend watching TV, playing video games, using computers, tablets, or smartphones. While screen time can be fun and educational, too much of it can have negative effects on our health, such as affecting our sleep, attention, memory, and social skills. It can also expose us to inappropriate or harmful content.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under 18 months should avoid screen time, except for video chatting. Children 18 to 24 months can watch some high-quality programs, such as Sesame Street, with parental guidance. Children 2 to 5 years can watch up to one hour of high-quality programs per day, with parental involvement. Children 6 years and older can have more flexible screen time limits, depending on their needs and activities. For adults, there is no specific recommendation, but it is advisable to limit screen time to avoid eye strain, headaches, and other health problems. Create a personalized family media plan to help guide how various media is used in your family.
If you want to reduce screen time and make TV and other screens less tempting to yourself and your children, try these ten tips:
Keep the TV, laptop, tablet, etc. in a central location like the family room.
By keeping the screens in a common area, you can better monitor the time and content that you and your children watch. You can also avoid having screens in the bedroom, which can interfere with your sleep quality and quantity. Having a screen-free sleep zone can help you and your children fall asleep faster and sleep better.
Keep the TV off during dinner and after dinner until homework is done.
By turning off the TV during mealtime, you can have more quality time with your family, and enjoy your food more. You can also avoid overeating, which can happen when you are distracted by the TV. By turning off the TV after dinner, you can help your children focus on their homework, and finish it faster and better. You can also use this time to read, play, or do other activities with your children.
Turn off all screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
By turning off all screens before bedtime, you can prevent yourself and your children from becoming overstimulated, which can make it harder to fall asleep. You can also avoid exposure to blue light, which can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. Instead of using screens, you can do some relaxing activities, such as reading, listening to music, or meditating.
Set a screen time limit for yourself and your children.
By setting a screen time limit, you can help yourself and your children be more mindful and intentional about how you use your screens. You can also free up more time for other activities, such as studying, reading, or exercising. You can use a timer, an app, or a chart to keep track of your screen time, and stick to your limit. You can also involve your children in deciding how they want to use their screen time, and respect their choices.
Choose the programs and apps that you and your children really want to watch or use, and avoid channel surfing or mindless scrolling.
By choosing the programs and apps that you and your children really want to watch or use, you can make your screen time more meaningful and enjoyable. You can also avoid wasting time and attention on programs and apps that are not relevant, interesting, or appropriate for you and your children. You can also use parental controls and filters to block or limit the access to certain programs and apps that you don't want your children to watch or use.
Watch programs and use apps with your children, and talk to them about what you see and hear.
By watching programs and using apps with your children, you can make your screen time more interactive and educational. You can also monitor the content and quality of the programs and apps that your children watch and use, and guide them to make good choices. You can also talk to your children about what you see and hear, and ask them questions, such as "What do you think?" or "How do you feel?". You can also share your opinions and feelings, and help your children learn from the programs and apps.
Limit snacking while watching TV or using screens, and choose healthy snacks.
By limiting snacking while watching TV or using screens, you can avoid eating junk food without really being hungry. You can also avoid consuming too many calories, sugar, fat, and salt, which can lead to weight gain and other health problems. If you or your children want to snack while watching TV or using screens, choose healthy snacks, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, or yogurt. You can also drink water instead of soda or juice.
Suggest indoor activities for yourself and your children to do instead of being in front of a screen, and have some materials and resources ready.
By suggesting indoor activities for yourself and your children to do instead of being in front of a screen, you can help yourself and your children be more creative, active, and productive. You can also have more fun and variety in your daily life. Some indoor activities that you can suggest are:
- Playing board games, card games, or puzzles
- Doing arts and crafts, such as drawing, painting, or making origami
- Reading books, magazines, or comics
- Writing stories, poems, or letters
- Doing experiments, such as making slime, volcanoes, or crystals
- Learning a new skill, such as cooking, knitting, or playing an instrument
To make these activities more accessible and appealing, you can have some materials and resources ready, such as:
- Books, magazines, comics, or newspapers
- Paper, pencils, pens, crayons, or markers
- Scissors, glue, tape, or stickers
- Cardboard, boxes, or bottles
- Fabric, yarn, or needles
- Ingredients, recipes, or cookbooks
- Instruments, music, or songs
Suggest outdoor activities for yourself and your children to do instead of being in front of a screen, and have some equipment and gear ready.
By suggesting outdoor activities for yourself and your children to do instead of being in front of a screen, you can help yourself and your children be more physically active and healthy. You can also enjoy the fresh air and nature, and reduce your stress and anxiety. Some outdoor activities that you can suggest are:
- Playing sports, such as soccer, basketball, or tennis
- Riding bikes, scooters, or skateboards
- Going for a walk, hike, or run
- Visiting a park, playground, or zoo
- Gardening, planting, or picking
- Camping, fishing, or boating
To make these activities more convenient and fun, you can have some equipment and gear ready, such as:
- Balls, bats, rackets, or nets
- Bikes, scooters, skateboards, or helmets
- Shoes, socks, or hats
- Backpacks, water bottles, or snacks
- Seeds, pots, or tools
- Tents, sleeping bags, or fishing rods
Be a good role model, and limit your own screen time.
By being a good role model, and limiting your own screen time, you can show your children that you value and practice what you preach. You can also improve your own health, well-being, and productivity. You can also spend more quality time with your children, and strengthen your relationship. Some ways that you can limit your own screen time are:
- Turn off your phone or put it on silent mode when you are with your children, and avoid checking it constantly
- Use your phone or computer only for work or important matters, and avoid browsing social media or playing games too much
- Set a specific time and place for using your screens, and stick to it
- Use an app or a timer to track your screen time, and set a limit
- Find other hobbies or interests that you enjoy, and pursue them
Screen time is not bad, as long as it is used wisely and moderately. By following these ten tips, you can limit screen time for yourself and your children, and make it more positive and beneficial. You can also have more time and opportunities for other activities, such as learning, playing, or bonding. Now that you have this knowledge, get off this screen and go put it to good use!