With the constant integration of technology in our everyday lives, parents are having trouble deciding how much time is appropriate to allow kids to play on their electronics.
The American Academy of Pediatrics used to recommend no more than two hours of screen time per day for children, but they’ve since changed that advice after acknowledging how difficult it can be to enforce that limit. Do you tell your 8-year-old that they can’t read on their tablet? How do you limit how often your 13-year-old stares at her screen when she brings her smartphone everywhere? If screen time is slowly taking over your family’s life, it may be time for a change and a time to start unplugging from electronics.
Signs Your Children Should Cut Back
- Dependent on technology for entertainment – if your child comes home from school and heads straight to the Xbox or turns on their favorite cartoon, they may be too dependent on technology for keeping them entertained. Incorporating strategies to unplug periodically can help them find other hobbies and interests away from a screen.
- Bad habits with electronics – does your family catch up on your favorite shows during dinner? Do you text your kid to do something from another room? Or lay in bed on your phone for an hour before actually falling asleep? These bad habits are hard to break and can be damaging to your health.
- Behavior problems – if your child argues with you every time you interrupt their video game or has random outbursts of anger for seemingly no reason, technology could actually be the source. Dependence on screens can lead to impatience and short tempers, along with sleep problems that can create behavior changes.
Ways to Unplug
- Plan a getaway – if your entire family needs to take a detox from electronics, try planning a weekend getaway. Taking a small vacation to a cabin in the woods could bring your family together while introducing you to new activities you might not have tried at home, like kayaking or hiking.
- Engage in quality family time – your family sitting in front of the TV every night isn’t improving your relationships with each other. Instead of bonding by watching a show, play a board game that allows for friendly competition and increased communication. And put the phones down at dinner so you can catch up on each other’s days instead.
- Enroll in an afterschool program – it can be hard for your child to get away from technology when they come home after school and have no one to hang out with and nothing to do besides turn on the TV. Enrolling them in an afterschool program is a great way to allow your child a space to play outside, make new friends and do activities that they wouldn’t be able to do alone at home. The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati offers enriching afterschool care to allow your child to do their homework, learn art and music, and engage in physical activity with their peers.
Technology is an integral part of our lives and it’s not going anywhere. Screens aren’t all bad but taking some time away from them can be extremely beneficial for both you and your children. Unplugging every once in a while will help your children grow and develop a well-rounded outlook on life.