Don't give up on the Screen-time battle!
D0 create a love of reading.
Parents ask me to help them with the battle over their children’s consumption of screen time. It is common knowledge that American children spend countless hours staring at screens - playing hours of violent games, viewing inappropriate Porn, following foul mouthed You Tube and TiK TOK celebrities and endlessly on FaceTime with their friends.
I am a child and adolescent psychotherapist for over 30 years specializing in anxiety, depression and anxiety. I have significant concerns with the mental health cost of screen time on children, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Parents efforts to raise children during a pandemic, dealing with virtual education and a technology explosion is exhausting. I regularly advise parents to limit screen time. Frankly, it is an uphill battle.
Are you aware of the following:
“The mass consumption of technology in mass quantity is the biggest experiment on the human brain?”
“The long term consequences of children’s addiction to technology is unknown.”
Go ahead and spend a few minutes googling these questions and you will receive 1000’s of concerns and warnings.
Most agree that the mass consumption of violence, porn, and social media is detrimental to your child’s brain, development, eye sight, physical health.
This is where I bring my expertise. I am committed to understanding how parents are handling the infectious “disease” as it lurches in plain sight- ready to steal thousands of hours from your child. Screen time robs children of common experiences: touching, smelling, feeling or moving.
I set out to find ways to help parents face this demon.
It really isn’t about the technology - it's a Parenting issue!
Technology magnifies the cross cultural parenting struggles that are afflicting parents today.
Parents - don’t give up. This is one of the problems you can do something about - you have the power to help your child.
COMMUNICATION - get curious.
Start by finding out how much time each family member is spending on screens per day/per week.
Track the exact amount of time each child is spending on devices as well as where they are spending their time. Discuss this with your child calmly. “We all seem to be spending too much time on our devices. This week we are going to track the time we spend and where we are spending our time on devices."
Without raising your voice or freaking out, engage them in conversation about what other things they can be doing with their time; going outside, doing Yoga or reading a book.
One non-negotiable rule I encourage all my clients to enforce is that all devices must be out of bedrooms in the evening. Children are sleep deprived because of their devices. Forty percent (40%) of tweens/teens who sleep with a phone in their rooms report that they wake up at least once a night to check their phones.
- all devices need to be stored out of the bedroom in the evening
- devices turned off at least one hour before going to sleep
- watching tv is better than watching a video or show on a device
- reading or listening to music is a great choice
Parents need to parent consciously--especially when it comes to screen time.
Setting limits and establishing parameters for screen time is a great strategy for families to be more healthy, happy and productive.
Be the role model - instead of picking up your phone while you are watching T.V. or sitting in bed - pick up a book. If possible, go to your local library, bookstore or shop on-line. Give your child the love of reading! Keep books and magazines on your child's night table and kitchen table.
I can't tell you how excited I get every time a client, especially a teen, shares with me that they are reading a book. It has become a rare occasion that this occurs. More often, when I ask if they are reading any good books, my question is met with "No, I don't read."
Pick up a good book, a cozy blanket and go share it with your child.
Nancy J. Kislin, LCSW, MSW