When they first came out, movies like iRobot, The Terminator, and The Matrix expanded our minds and twisted our stomachs with the dread of possibility. Only a few decades ago, it may have seemed extremely far-fetched that robots and machines could take over the world so quickly, but aren't we all being controlled by one algorithm or another?
The machines are deciding what we see and when we see it - like in our Facebook feeds, and Google searches. As they say, the cat, or rather the robot, is out of the bag and there is no going back. But that doesn't mean it is hopeless when it comes to setting boundaries with the screens, especially for the children's sake, and our sanity levels.
So, what are a few practical and easy ways to limit screen time while also limiting arguments and family strife? Let's explore what the experts are saying about screens before we delve into the nitty-gritty.
What are the latest findings on kids and screen time?
Well, the findings aren't too good. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the average child in the U.S. spends up to seven hours per day on some sort of screened device. That's the longest they spend on any daily activity. Unfortunately, spending too much time on screens is associated with poor sleep, lowered grades, and a higher risk of becoming obese.
So what's the recommended limit for screen time? The AAP suggests limiting screen time to no more than two hours per day for kids two and up. Younger children and infants should not be getting any screen time.
Another issue with too much screen time is that kids are less likely to achieve higher levels of educational attainment the more time they spend with screens. We're teachers here at RoosterFin Games, so this is a little bit alarming to us. But it's not all doom and gloom. There are ways to cut back on screen time.
What are the top 4 ways to limit screen time?
1. Establish a rule to keep bedrooms screen-free.
This is probably the simplest, easy way to cut back on screen time. This rule also gives parents better control over how much time kids can spend on their devices, and it will help you monitor what they are seeing. Make it a rule to keep the bedrooms free of TVs, smartphones, iPads, and gaming consoles. Studies show that TVs in the bedroom are linked to poor sleep quality and problems at school.
2. Set consistent limits for screen time.
Whether it's for an hour after homework is finished, or two hours on Saturday mornings, set limits and stay consistent with them. This helps establish boundaries and ground rules that your kids can rely on, and helps to hold you both accountable for sticking to the new rules.
3. Monitor what your children are viewing.
Monitoring doesn't just mean making sure your kids aren't looking at violent or suggestive images. Monitoring also means viewing content with your children and taking time to discuss themes and the meaning of the content. This will teach your children how to think critically, and it also helps you increase your quality family time together.
4. Prepare for the inevitable whining.
Expect your child to be one unhappy, whiny camper when you start laying down the ground rules for screen time. It's pretty much inevitable. But telling yourself that these arguments are worth it for their quality of life will help you stay the course and get through the transition period.
Limiting screen time is a proven way to combat childhood obesity, improve children's grades, increase social skills, and protect their sleep. Keep these tips and tricks in mind when you make the switch to limited screen time for your family.