Counseling means hope.
Screen Time and Mental Health
The US Census Bureau says that 20% of teens spend seven or more hours on screens each day. These teens are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety in comparison to teens who spend just one hour using a screen each day. In addition, prolonged screen time has been linked to sleeplessness, obesity, and emotional instability. There is no denying that children could benefit both mentally and physically by decreasing the amount of time they spend in front of a screen. However, this behavior is difficult to change and is often met with tantrums, no matter the age of your child.
Support the mental and physical health of your child by making steps to decrease the amount of screen time they participate in each day. Here are some tips to get started.
1. Be a good role model!
Limit your screen time when your children are present. Be aware of using your phone/computer/tablet when your child is speaking to you. Put your phone away and make eye contact. This reaffirms that they are more important than anything that is going on the screen. Get outside and play, read a book, or take a hike. Show your child that there is life outside the screens!
2. Do not give your child a screen to prevent a tantrum.
Your children will have tantrums. Sometimes these tantrums will occur during inconvenient times, when it could be easiest to calm them down by handing them a phone or tablet to distract them. Instead, help your child learn to better manage their feelings by acknowledging these feelings and helping them to work through them.
3. Have clear limits and rules!
Having an established screen free time is important. Set the rule that dinner is screen free. No television, no phones at the table, no responding to texts or calls.
Stick to these rules! Consistency is important!
4. Bedrooms are screen-free zones.
Sleep is essential for the good mental and physical health of your child. Screen use in the bedroom has been proven to cause issues going to sleep and staying asleep. Do not allow your child to have a television in their room. Require all family members plug in their phone and tablet in a common area away from their bedroom. This will decrease temptation to use.
5. Use media with your child.
Show your child how to use technology responsibly. Read a story online together and then discuss it. Show your children how to use affirming applications and learn how to spot the apps that are not so positive.
Screens are here to stay, and each year children and teens are spending more and more time fixated on these glowing lights. It is essential that parents set boundaries and teach responsibility when it comes to these electronics so that their children can grow into healthy and successful individuals.
FamilyMeans Counseling & Therapy understands that this is hard work. This is why we are here to support both parents and children through life’s challenges. Visit Familymeans.org or call us at 651-439-4840 to learn more ways to support your child’s mental health.