By Pam Heintz, Head of School
Whether it’s a buzz, beep, chime, or ding one thing is for sure – our minds have been programmed to respond to the subtle attention-grabbing noises (or vibrations) that our smart phones make. We can hardly stop the almost involuntary response that over takes our body as we seemingly unconsciously reach for our device. What exactly are we checking for anyway? For adults, it is most likely one of two things – work or our children.
But, what about our children…what has them so enamored that they can hardly pull themselves away from their technology? I read an article recently which shared some sobering statistics. The article, which was put out by Focus on the Family (click on the link to learn more https://pluggedin.focusonthefamily.com/tech-guide/) indicated that children ages 8-12 are on technology about 6 hours/day. This amount increases to about 9 hours/day for children ages 13-18. I encourage everyone to read this article, it was eye-opening, to say the least.
While the article shared several good ways that adults can monitor their children’s screen time, as well as some available filters that are on the market that they can incorporate to help limit their child’s ability to view or participate on inappropriate sites, it doesn’t completely solve the problem of children and technology. Our kids will eventually reach an age (and that age is getting younger and younger) when they simple are a bit more tech savvy than mom and dad. In other words, the filters we may be using to protect our children may easily be bypassed by our children. So, what exactly do we do to help protect our children from overdosing on technology, or worst, becoming what some have coined as a tech addict? Researchers have argued that the part of the brain that is stimulated and effected by certain substances that can lead to an addiction, is also the same part of the brain that is stimulated when we our engrossed in our technology. To learn more about this phenomena check out this article, https://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/articles/fcd/teen-technology-addiction.
Over usage of the screen is epidemic and experts are urging parents to take the reins and help limit the amount of time children spend in front of a screen. According to research shared by CBS (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/parents-need-to-drastically-cut-kids-screen-time-devices-american-heart-association/), “Kids and teens age 8 to 18 spend an average of more than seven hours a day looking at screens. The new warning from the AHA (American Heart Association) recommends parents limit screen time for kids to a maximum of just two hours per day. For younger children, age 2 to 5, the recommended limit is one hour per day.”
What can we do as adults to combat over usage of technology in our children? Below are a few simple suggestions. Try adding a new suggestion each week until your child is spending a more appropriate (and healthy) amount of time in front of the screen.
- For every 30 minutes of screen time, have your child read for at least 10 minutes.
- If your family is not already in the habit, build in family dinners. Pick a consistent time each night that dinner will be served…try preparing dinner with your child!
- Commit, along with your child, to leaving cell phones, laptops, iPads, and/or tablets on the kitchen counter each night before bedtime.
- In the mornings instead of your child reaching for their technology first thing, how about leaving a Bible verse or inspirational saying next to their bed so when they wake up it’s the first thing they see as a opposed to the screen.
For more great tips to help your children combat the screen, check out this article https://www.verywellfamily.com/tips-for-limiting-electronics-and-screen-time-for-kids-1094870.