Have you ever attempted a digital detox or a screen-free day in your home?
These days there are numerous channels devoted to children’s shows, as well as tablets and other devices with apps aimed specifically at children. Add to this the fact that screens are often used in the classroom too, and it becomes clear that our children are spending more time than ever staring at one screen or another.
There is no getting away from it; technology is the future and it is important that our children know their way around a touch screen and the latest gadgets. But it is also important that we all have down time away from screens from time to time.
The blue light emitted from screens actually stimulates the brain and can cause sleep problems if used too close to bedtime. As well as this, too much screen time has been linked with childhood obesity - because time spent in front of a screen is time not spent being active. Too much screen time can even cause physical problems and pain relating to poor posture, and has been linked to problems in school.
As parents it is our job to limit screen time - but that can be hard to do. Here are some tips for limiting screen time:
Lead by example. If your child sees you glued to your laptop or mobile all day, they will see nothing wrong with following suit. Similarly, if you make a conscious decision to take a day away from your laptop or leave your mobile in another room while you eat, they will be more inclined to do the same.
Keep screens out of bedrooms. If there is a TV or a tablet in the corner of the room, the temptation will always be there to switch it on. If you remove it, and enforce a rule that screens are only allowed in the living room, you might be surprised by how much screen time reduces for everyone.
Implement a "screen free day” on a regular basis. The key to success with this one is to provide lots of other activities and entertainment so that children aren’t bored and wishing they could watch TV instead. Going for a family walk could also be helpful with this.
Set a curfew on screen time. Again, this is something for adults and children alike; either all screens are switched off at a set time each evening, or everyone agrees to stop using screens an hour or two before their respective bedtime. You might be surprised by how much this can help with any sleep issues too.
Use time limiting apps on devices. These days many tablets come with, or have available for download, a "kids mode” type device which allows parents to limit which apps can be used by a child, and also the amount of time the device is used. Setting this up can help to avoid any arguments over how long the device has been in use.