There is no doubt, we live in the technology age. This is the time we were all preparing for in school. Our lives are filled with electronic devices we just can’t live without. From smartphones to family computers, and everything in between; we are attached to technology. Additionally, many schools are now requiring students to have a laptop or at least a tablet for assignments and research. So just how much time behind a screen is OK for kids?
It has been said that consistent electronic usage has become a disease, although there is no scientific proof behind that statement. It is a fact, however, that kids are becoming obsessed with their devices. Text zombies are everywhere. These are people that are so absorbed in their phones that they do not watch where they are going. These are the ones crashing into others, poles, and occasionally directly into traffic.
These are the extreme cases that prompt parents to set limits on their children. The question is, where do you draw the line? First, you have to determine your child’s actual usage time, not just what you see them doing. Factor in texting before, during, and after school, and computer use in classes. Add this to TV time, homework time, and simple downtime.
All the screen time is causing a range of problems in kids not seen even 20 years ago. There is a rise in spinal and joint complaints from sitting dormant and slouching over devices for long periods. Carpal tunnel is on the rise from the repetitive motions of gaming devices. Vision deterioration is a direct result of too much time looking at screens and decreased social skills have been noted as well. Lack of in-person interaction coupled with violent games has bred a culture of kids that can not cope with social situations.
Always be aware of what your child is doing online. It is not an invasion of privacy when you are providing the internet. It is being responsible. Keeping your six-year-old off adult sites is your job, and there are plenty of apps to help. You can even set time limits on the devices. They will shut down on their own, saving you the hassle of tantrums and arguments. Most experts agree no more than two to three hours a day screen time is plenty for most kids. The fact is, the parents need to use their own discretion. An older child can easily use two hours a day at school on assignments, and additional time on homework. Do you forbid free time then? No, just utilize the parental controls available, and encourage more physical activity and family time.