If your kids have been getting a little more time with their technology than usual since the pandemic started and you’ve been finding it hard to control kids screen time, you’re not alone. In fact, many parents have resorted to allowing their kids to spend, in some cases, extra hours per day in front of a television, computer or smartphone to cope with lockdowns and fill up extra time at home. However, excess screen time can have harmful health effects in children – for instance, there’s a potential link between total screen time and anxiety development in kids – so it’s best to limit that time and instead encourage healthy activities that the kids can do either alone or with the whole family. If you’ve been struggling with this issue, here’s how you can cope and some alternatives to try.
Understand the Negative Effects of Allowing Excess Screen Time
The first step to solving the screen time issue is to understand the pandemic’s impact on children’s mental health. Children are normally highly social and love to explore, so being forced indoors for extended periods of time away from their social circles can naturally lead to boredom, frustration and anxiety. In turn, kids may look to their devices as a distraction or a way to take their minds off of the repetitive nature of constantly being at home. Unfortunately, too much screen time can worsen some of these symptoms, exacerbating the issue rather than helping it. To truly help your children with these common mental health struggles, it’s important to limit the number of hours per day they spend looking at a screen.
Provide Alternatives To Help Entertain Your Children
Sometimes, kids turn to technology because there aren’t enough other options at home that can entertain them. You may want to consider providing several healthy and even educational alternatives that your kids can turn to instead. These could include:
- Stuffed animals or other toys for young children
- Building blocks
- Complex puzzles
- Educational books
- Hands-on arts and crafts activities
Dedicate Tech-Free Family Time and Help Your Kids Understand Why
The best way to help get your kids weaned off of their devices is to lead by example. Try taking some time away from screens altogether by dedicating tech-free family time every day, when the family can simply enjoy each other’s company without TVs, phones and other devices. In order to get your kids excited about this, it’s important to help them understand the reason why you’re being firm about a tech-free time period. With older kids in particular, sitting down and having a discussion about the negative impacts of screen time may help motivate them to fill their spare time with other activities.
Ever since the start of the pandemic, many children have turned to excess screen time to alleviate their boredom, calm their frustrations and even soothe their anxiety. Unfortunately, too much screen time can potentially make these mental health conditions worse, so it’s essential for parents to limit the time their kids spend with technological devices. By providing healthy alternatives and focusing on tech-free family time, you can help keep your kids entertained while protecting their mental and physical health.