Technology is an inescapable part of all our lives. Unless you live off the beaten path where Wifi is non-existent, it is hard to keep your children away from technology and all of its many forms. Our children have been born into a world of technology and it is constantly in reach of their little hands. I am the first to admit that I could be better with technology. I feel guilty for Kai watching his iPad while Amber and I watch Netflix, yet that has become a somewhat regular part of our lives.
As technology has become an overarching part of our world, we have to learn when to incorporate it and when to shut it off. But how much is the right amount of screen time? How do we put it away when it’s a part of every aspect of our lives? How do we limit ourselves to set an example for our children?
Many studies from The American Academy of Pediatrics have found that our children are growing up in a media-saturated environment. With children aged 8-12 engrossing themselves in technology for at least 4-6 hours a day and teens for up to 9 hours, this overall is a massive amount of technology consumed throughout the day. So how do we fix this, you ask?
The American Academy of Pediatrics took their findings and turned them into guidelines for parents to follow. They suggest that children between the ages of 2-5 should be limited to 1 hour per day and only 3 hours on the weekend, while children 6 and up should limit all activities to the best of their abilities that involve using a screen to encourage outside playtime, interaction with other children, and non-technological activities you can do in the home or community.
Parents are also encouraged to enforce a “no screen time” rule during family gatherings, meals, and outings, to ensure that everyone is engaged. Finally, the AAP suggests that screens should be turned off at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime to encourage relaxation and to promote an overall sense of winding down to end the day. With these guidelines to follow, we as parents can try to limit the amount of technology we are consuming as a family to set an example for our children.
However, limiting our technology intake as parents may be the first step to setting an example for the family. If we constantly have our eyes on our screens, we are simply showing our children that that is okay. By limiting the amount of TV we watch, the social media we use, or the number of screens we have open, we can start setting an example.
I have decided to limit my texting and email intake. I often feel overwhelmed by the number of messages I receive throughout the day, so taking time to turn off my phone or close out of my email has helped me disconnect while at the same time, connect me to the real world happening around me.
I have found that I love turning my phone off and having real-time interactions with the people around me. It has been extremely beneficial not only for my mental health but also for my well-being and staying active in what is happening around me.
While limiting technology can seem like a daunting task, especially today when we carry out our lives on Zoom, it is worth the effort!. Taking time away from the many screens we have in our homes can promote family time and encourage interaction without the constant distraction of technology.
Working together as a family is the best way to decide how to limit screen time for you and your children. Go outside, sit by the fire pit, and discuss your family rules for screen time. I bet you might enjoy it!