Growing up in the digital ageSubmitted by Financial Planning Solutions, LLC on December 28th, 2017
For anyone with children at home, managing screen time is an issue. At young ages, it can seem innocent as a 5 year old plays a simple game on mom or dad’s smartphone. But pretty soon they are wanting more and more time and eventually their own phone.
How much time is too much?
What effect is screen time this having on our children?
Are there long term effects?
Does it cause violence or other problems?
These are just some of the questions that parents have as their young children become teenagers. And they should be worried.
I recently attended a great program at our son’s high school with a special screening of a movie called “Screenagers, Growing Up in the Digital Age”. It was an eye-opening evening. You can learn more about the movie by going to www.screenagersmovie.com.
I am sharing the Parent Guide below that may help you begin to better manage your teens’ screen time.
Having weekly, short, calm conversations with your family about tech is so important. Tech Talk Tuesday (TTT), our weekly blog, offers you tools and tips for discussions. Families tell us it’s making a huge difference. Visit our website www.screenagersmovie.com/tech-talk-tuesdays/ to try one. It’s never too late to start a conversation about technology but often doing it in baby steps is more effective. —Delaney Ruston, MD, filmmaker of Screenagers 4 Basic rules to consider— (go to www.screenagersmovie.com to find ways to enforce rules).
1. No screens in bedrooms when kids and teens go to sleep (for younger kids keep screens out completely). Fact: 75% teens get inadequate sleep. The presence of devices disrupts sleep cycles.
2. Set time goals for studying without multitasking and then, also, take tech breaks. Fact: Multitasking is linked to less retention and poorer academic outcomes.
3. Eat family meals without devices. Fact: Face-to-face conversations improve mood and empathy.
4. Put phones and devices away in the car. Fact: More than half of kids report seeing their parents text while driving.
Three Tips to help your child build self-control
1. Science shows that positive rewards work better than punishment. For example, if you observe your child focused while doing their homework without their device, praise them.
2. Build times when tech is out of sight. Self-control is hard, so decrease temptations.
3. Use TTT to let your kids share with you about the reasons they like tech in their lives—the more they feel understood, the more they’ll work with you on tech limits.
Discussion questions from the movie:
● How much time do you think kids in the US spend looking at screens? (Kids spend an average of 6.5 hours a day on screens, not including classroom or homework.)
● How much time do you think you spend each week on screen-related activities?
● The film featured a study in which baby mice exposed to screen time developed fewer cells in the areas of learning and memory than non-exposed mice. Do you think this is true for humans too?
● Do you think violent video games desensitize people to violence?
● What are some popular games that don’t involve violence?
● Have you experienced people using screens to avoid face-to-face interactions? Do you ever make comments online that you wouldn’t make in person? Resources at www.screenagersmovie.com
● Screen Time Contracts—Tips and screen time contracts templates, including Tessa’s contract
● Parenting Apps—Tools that automatically turn off tech at certain times
● Digital Citizenship—Links to help teach this at home and in schools
● Parenting Tips—Ongoing practical advice from our blog, TTT and more
We hope that these tips will help you get off to a good start with your kids in the New Year!
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