Plenty of parents nowadays are concerned about how much screen time their kids should have every day. And rightfully so — as overexposure to digital media at an early age has been linked to cognitive problems, such as lack of focus and limited critical thinking.
However, a recent survey has found that parents themselves have a hard time regulating their own screen usage. And as most parents know, our examples matter.
The survey conducted by Common Sense Media found that most parents of teens and tweens spend more than nine hours a day on screens every day. 80% time was spent for leisure, not work. This is basically as much time as teens spend on their devices.
‘I think it tells you that [parents] are not that different than their kids’
What’s interesting is that most of these parents (78% to be exact) considered themselves positive role models when it came to technology use. This is what Amy Guggenheim Shenkan, president of Common Sense, described as the “parental paradox.”
“Parents are spending a lot of time with media themselves, yet more than half of them are worried about their kids being addicted to technology and they have a lot of concerns about what their kids are doing,” she told The Huffington Post.
This survey’s goal isn’t to shame parents, but to make them aware of the example they’re setting for their kids.
“I think it tells you that [parents] are not that different than their kids,” Michael Robb, director of research for Common Sense Media, told CNN.
“It’s going to be, I think, a challenge, and has been a challenge, for parents to find what the right balance is for them and for their children.”
We should all strive to be positive role models and be more present when it comes to our kids instead of spending most of our waking hours in front of a screen. Here are some simple tips to reduce screen time at home, from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
1. Discuss with your family
Before you set the ground rules, talk to your family about why it’s so important that they lessen their screen time. Tell them that it will help you all become more well-rounded people, and that away from screens, they’ll have so much time freed up that they can spend on more worthwhile things, such as exercise.
2. Set limits
You can create a house rule that limits screen time to a certain number of hours every day. Make sure that you enforce it and stick to it as well.
3. Create screen-free spaces
Your bedrooms should definitely be screen-free. This means not placing TVs or computers in bedrooms, as doing so increases the likelihood of your children spacing out in front of the screen. This will also encourage them to leave their rooms and spend more time with the family. You could also make other areas of your house screen-free, such as your dining room.
4. Don’t make screen time a punishment or reward
You shouldn’t discipline your child be taking away their screen time, or reward them with more. This actually makes screen time more desirable for them. You don’t have to make it such a huge deal.
5. Have an action plan after school
One big reason behind kids’ large screen time consumption is because they have nothing else to do. You can help them along by coming up with after-school activities that you can do together.