3 Proven Ways to Manage Screen Time

The CDC reported that the typical child between the ages of 11-14 spends 9 hours in front of a screen each day. The CDC’s recommendation is that children should be limited to 1-2 hours in front of a screen per day. This recommendation is put into place so children have the time to move their bodies and stretch their brains throughout the day. 

What does the research say?

Research has shown that parents whose children spend more than the recommended time in front of a screen, notice that their children are more impulsive and irritable. Research shows that when children are in front of the screen they receive a rush of dopamine. This makes it more difficult to walk away from the screen, and ultimately, walk away from the surge of these chemicals.

But the question is, how can parents help their children make the change to less screen time?

Have a diverse written schedule:

Try implementing a written schedule with your children. This schedule should include the timing for all activities, including: school, homework, extra curricular activities, outdoor play, screen time, meals, and bed. A consistent and clear schedule allows your child to understand the structure of the day. It gives a clear beginning and ending to each activity, including screen time. Be sure to post the schedule where everyone can see it. Being consistent with a schedule like this allows your child to transition from one activity to the next with ease. 

Depending on your child’s needs, consider making a visual schedule which makes the schedule appropriate for nearly all cognitive levels. 

Be a good role model:

Most good habits start with a strong role model. This means modeling what it looks like to use technology in meaningful ways. This also means that as a parent, it is important to be cognizant of showing your child what it looks like to turn screen time off, including cell phones, computers, video games, and the television. 

Consider making “Technology Free Zones” in the house. This might mean that screens are off limits at the dinner table and in the bedrooms. Some families also choose to make “Technology Free Times.” For example technology turns off at 7pm each evening, or Saturdays are technology free days, so families can enjoy spending their time together in Screen-Free ways. 

Implementing parent locks:

Many of the devices and services that children use come prepared with parenting locks. This means that parents can change the hours that devices can be used, or a weekly/daily time limit for the devices. Parenting locks can be a good way to establish a clear boundary for screen times. Being clear and consistent with the boundary can help children to understand the rules and structure behind their screen time. 

Depending on your child’s age, it’s also important to have an honest conversation with them concerning screen time. Discuss your concerns about devices and suggest alternate activities that they may enjoy trying. Children are more likely to change the way they’ve been doing things if they understand the meaning behind the change and are excited about a new alternative.

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Children’s Wellness & Developmental Center
2006 State Highway 71 Suite 4
Spring Lake Hts, NJ 07762 Monmouth County
T: 732.919.1335
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