Become Screen Smart: A Guide to Prevent Excessive Screen Time

Reviewed by Hillary Miller

Recently updated on November 25th, 2023 at 02:06 am

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Key Takeaways
  1. Impact of Excessive Screen Time:
    • Excessive screen time hampers children’s creativity and imagination, as indicated by a survey revealing a decline in imaginary friends among kids.
  2. Importance of Boredom:
    • Allowing children to experience boredom fosters creativity, imagination, and self-reflection, promoting a healthier relationship with technology.
  3. Screen Time Guidelines:
    • Follow national guidelines, like the UK’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics, to set appropriate screen time limits based on age and quality of content.
  4. Preventing Excessive Screen Time:
    • Select age-appropriate and educational screen activities, set clear rules for screen time, include alternative activities in schedules, and be a positive screen time role model.
  5. Encouraging Unplugging:
    • Counter excessive screen time by introducing offline activities, such as mindfulness practices like journaling, to promote reflection and gratitude among children.

Introduction to smart screen:

You may easily control and limit screen time with the help of this short guide. Discover practical strategies for striking a balance between online and offline activities. Learn practical strategies to promote a better screen-related connection and safeguard your mental health in the age of digital media. Together, let’s explore the digital world and adopt a more intentional approach for using screens.

A new report by the Independent Paper found that excessive screen time dampens children’s imagination.

The survey of 1,000 nursery workers found that screen time negatively impacts children’s creativity.

Other Findings from the survey:

  • The poll also found that less than 48% of kids have an imaginary friend.
  • 72% of nursery workers believe far fewer children have imaginary friends compared to 5 years back
  • 63% of nursery workers believe screen time is to be blamed for this.

Before removing your kid’s devices, remember that the keyword here is excessive.

We all know too much of something is never good. The same goes for screen time.

Many would argue that technology can help with a child’s development. I believe using the right app technology can facilitate creativity.

However, I also believe excessive screen time is unsuitable for a child. Children are no longer allowed to be ‘bored’ in my household.

Whenever a child in my house complains of boredom, they are immediately given a YouTube show to watch or a video game.

This limits a child’s ability to use their imagination and be creative by being bored. Such as, creating an imaginary friend or even a story they can tell so they can entertain themselves.

Related: How to balance toddler screen time and encourage independent play

Don’t forget to get this free copy 

KidsnClicks.com Book:The Ultimate List

WHY YOU SHOULD ALLOW YOUR CHILD TO BE BORED:

According to Dr Vanessa Lapointe, a psychologist,  kids should be able to sit through their boredom to hear themselves.

Being surrounded by nothing can evoke something alive on the inside.

The problem children face growing up with screen is that it is readily available and increasingly becoming a numbing outlet.

Hence, excessive screen time is becoming a problem in many households.

The key to raising kids in a digital world is to help them find the right screen time balance and eventually teach children to self-regulate.

Check out the Happy Printable Journal that would teach kids about self-confidence and gratitude.

WHAT IS THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF SCREEN TIME?

Following the British Screen time guidelines : 

The UK’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH for short) has published some new screen time guidelines for parents.

The screen time study they are referring to is essentially television time.

There isn’t a direct answer provided- for instance, it does not specify a daily time limit- that parents are looking for.

The RCPCH stated, “There is not enough evidence to confirm that screen time harms child health at any age.”

However, the study identifies some concerns of high screen time, such as :

  • A less healthy diet can be an indicator of obesity
  • Depressive symptoms for those exposed to more than 2 hours of screen time
  • Poor educational outcomes

The study also concludes that “the contribution of screen time to wellbeing is small when considered together with the contribution of sleep, physical activity, eating, and bullying as well as poverty.”

Related: Read more about the British Screen Time Balance

Following the American Screen Time Recommendations:

Here are some screen time facts according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) :

  • No screen time below the age of 2 years old. But screen time is allowed for video chat with family members
  • For children aged 2-5 years old, limit screen time to one hour a day and choose high-quality programs
  • For children ages six and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media and the types of media, and make sure media does not replace adequate sleep, physical activity, and other behaviors essential to health.

Screentime Guidelines.

Related: If you are a mom feeling guilty about your kid’s screen time, then read this article and stop that guilt.

HOW TO PREVENT EXCESSIVE SCREEN TIME :

Firstly, select the proper screen time activity for your kids.

Not all screen time is created equally.

Watching toys unboxing on YouTube is very different from learning to code.

As a family, you should have a conversation with your child about what is allowed to do on their devices and the time they are allowed to do it.

For instance, they can watch cooking shows on YouTube but not Ryan Toy reviews.

You can use the list here to find favorable screen time with your child and how it can evoke creativity in your child.

Next, you want to set some rules for allowing screen time. This includes :

  1. No devices allowed in the bedroom
  2. No mobile phones at the dinner table
  3. Include alternative activities in your child’s schedule. For instance, you are exercising, learning a musical instrument, etc.
  4. Have a schedule for screen time.
  5. Finally, be a good role model. Show your child how you balance screen time. This can prevent excessive screen time from a young age and help them self-regulate.

Download the smartphone self-evaluation toolkit for your kids, which can help prevent excessive screen time. 

Don’t forget to check out the Digital Parenting Pledge (create tech rules for your home) 

Screentime Guidelines.

HOW TO GET KIDS TO UNPLUG:

If you think your child is getting excessive screen time, find offline activities they like to get them to unplug.

I am a firm believer in practicing mindfulness for children who are growing up in a tech world.

This would mean getting them to write in a journal for a few minutes a day before bedtime.

It is surprisingly a calming activity that can help your child be at peace with their thoughts and reflect on their emotions.

Also, it is an excellent way for them to practice gratitude after a long day.

However, children must be given the right tools to practice journaling. Providing them with an empty book will not help them.

They need the proper prompts that would help them think about their feelings.

You can check out the Happy Printable Journal, 

One hundred fifty-nine pages of fun, positive, and growth mindset activities for kids. Also, screen-free!

KidsnClick.com Book: The Happy Journal

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Parven founded Kids N Clicks after obtaining her MSc in Corporate Governance from the London School of Economics. She worked as a business studies and digital marketing lecturer. Internet Matters recognizes her profound knowledge of online safety, dubbing her an Internet safety expert. At Kids N Clicks, Parven keeps abreast of the newest apps. Drawing from her teaching background, she fervently promotes screen-free activities for students and encourages introspective thinking through journaling, games and writing prompts.

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