Balancing Parenting with Family Screen Time
It’s an understatement to say that parenting isn’t easy, and one recent complication is the addition of smartphones. This is one piece of technology that has grabbed the imagination of the world. In the USA, an estimated 77% of the population has a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011. Parents and children both can easily get out of balance. It’s important to evaluate how our families are impacted by even mild addictions to our smartphones and make adjustments, if needed.
If you aren’t totally focused on your phone for hours daily, you are a unique person indeed. The truth that is hard to ignore is that our screen time often gets priority over valuable time that would much better be invested in our children.
It can be truly eye-opening to consider how much of our time is spent connecting with electronics instead of with our children. One savvy mother discussed this issue with her kids. Together, they made a list of things that could be exchanged for time on the phone. Every parent should probably take the time to make this same kind of list with their own children and then start checking them all off. For instance, instead of spending many hours each week on your smartphone, do these things with your children:
- Have a family game night appropriate in some way for all ages and work your way up to teaching the kids to play checkers, chess, and more.
- Read together.
- As your children grow, watch videos with them of their baby years.
- Make homemade ice cream together.
- Go outdoors and play something fun or competitive the whole family can participate in.
- Do arts and crafts with your children.
- Work in the yard together every week, making it more about family togetherness than anything else.
Children and Screen Addiction
A sad reality is that digital media has led to an epidemic of children being addicted to electronics. Research is new, as is the phenomenon; but studies have already concluded that great harm can be done to children, if they get more than a bit of screen time each day. The following are some of the many warnings to parents from researchers:
- Children who stare at the blue light on screens near bedtime will have difficulty falling asleep. The loss of 30 minutes of sleep can have a negative impact on behavior the following day. Staying asleep can also be a challenge, if the phone makes sounds for notifications and calls throughout the night.
- Increased screen time is linked with obesity, insulin resistance, a higher incidence of the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, and an increase in abdominal fat. The sedentary nature of an obsession with computers, video games, and smartphones can result in poor muscle development and many other physical problems. The brain is also negatively impacted.
- Online content can easily lead to mental health problems. When children spend an excessive amount of time on Internet games, they can experience physical brain changes as well as a tendency toward aggression, depression, substance abuse, and impulsivity.
The biggest temptation for parents is to make things easier by handling even the littlest ones with the distraction of face time in front of a screen. All commonsense signs point to resisting this urge, even if this loud volume funny onesie poetically describes the gist of the struggle.