Benefits of decreased screen time

By Jenna Kruse, LCSW

Advice from Youth First

Over the last decade, there has been a boom in technology advancement, and in screen time for adults and children. As a result of the increased screen time, there has also been a noticeable increase in stress, anxiety and depression.

According to The Very Well Family, the average amount of time American children spend on a device of their choice is 4-6 hours per day. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one hour a day for children ages 2-5 and no screen time for children under 18 months.

The benefits of limiting screen time for your child include, but are not limited to, improved sleep habits; better focus and brain function; increased academic success; decrease in obesity; better vision; and lower risk of anxiety and depression.

As we all know, limiting screen time is easier said than done in a society where we are so connected with social media, zoom, and FaceTime – and use devices so frequently for entertainment. The following are specific strategies for setting screen time limits at home:

  • Set your daily limits and stick to them; doing this establishes clear rules for your child. This will be difficult at first; but in time, your child will learn what to expect. Try your best not to give in to bargaining and tantrums from your child as this will become a learned skill to acquire more time on their device.
  • Do not allow your child to have any electronic devices in their bedroom. Children who have devices in their bedroom get less quality sleep and are more tempted to be on their device. Parents, set a bedtime for your child’s device each night. Have your children plug their device into the charger in a designated space at a specific time each night. Set clear boundaries and expectations.
  • Monitoring the content that your child is taking in and sending out on their device is imperative. Children are impulsive and can click on links that can allow access to information they should not be receiving. Your child’s device is your device. Monitor the texts they are sending and receiving; this will allow for learning lessons and discussions as needed.
  • Create phone-free spaces. This boundary ensures that balance is found and that time on a device is not taking away from personal connections. This could look like setting all devices on airplane mode during family dinner or family game night.

There are many ways to help your child decrease their use of devices. Studies show that habits generally take a week to a month to form; but once changes are made, it does not take long to notice improvements. Your child’s healthy future will be worth every tantrum, bargaining session or fight over your new boundary of decreased screen time.

Technology can be a very positive thing because it enables learning and connection. Allowing your child to use a device is okay; but help your child find a healthy balance.

Jenna Kruse, LCSW, serves as Youth First social worker at Evansville’s Holy Rosary Catholic School.