5 Essential Screen Time Lessons For Healthy Kids
As parents, we've all been there: the epic battle over screen time with our kids. It's a struggle that seems to define the modern parenting experience!
We've heard countless complaints, witnessed eye rolls, and felt the resistance. But before you give in to the temptation to throw in the towel, remember this: it's not a battle against your children; it's a battle for their lifelong well-being.
DYM Brain and Body Safety Challenge:
Teach your kids WHY screen time limits help their brains and bodies to be healthier and happier.
Why set screen time limits?
The seemingly endless debates about screen time can leave parents feeling exhausted! However, it's essential for kids to understand that these limits are not arbitrary. You’re not trying to ruin their fun; you’re trying to defend them. So, let's break it down.
Physical health impacts
Let's begin with the most immediate and noticeable effects of excessive screen time on your kids' well-being: physical health.
1. Eye strain: According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, screen time affects children’s vision in several ways, including:
- eye fatigue,
- dry and irritated eyes,
- loss of focus and flexibility, and
Teach your child when their eyes hurt, it’s a clear sign they need to be done with screens for the day. They can learn that this step will protect their eyesight and prevent unnecessary discomfort.
2. Physical harm: Kids can become so absorbed in their electronics that the body's natural signals are ignored. They might forget to:
- eat (or mindlessly eat too much),
- drink, or
- go to the bathroom, resulting in UTIs and constipation.
Teach your child that ignoring their body’s signals affects their overall health, including proper nutrition and hydration. It can also lead to grumpiness due to being hangry!
3. Sleep Disruption: As bedtime approaches, we've all heard the pleas: "Just one more episode!", “Let me finish the level!”, “One more reel!”. Unfortunately, that extra screen time can wreak havoc on your child's sleep schedule. Teach your child the importance of sleep to grow strong physically and mentally.
The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone crucial for regulating sleep. Some negative effects of poor sleep include:
- an interruption of growth hormones that are secreted during sleep
- and difficulty concentrating.
Mental and social health impacts
In addition to physical impacts, too much tech can take a toll on mental and social health. Here are just two two negative impacts:
1. Social and emotional well-being: Excessive screen time can also impact your child's ability to form and maintain healthy relationships. Time spent on personal devices creates an isolated experience. Help your kid understand that when they are glued to a screen, they miss out on valuable face-to-face interactions with friends and family, including:
- opportunities to bond and connect with peers,
- developing crucial social skills like empathy and communication,
- and learning to navigate conflicts in real-life situations.
2. Porn and predators: The amount of time children spend online directly corresponds to their chances of encountering porn and/or predators. Think of it as a risk continuum. Teach your child that the more time kids spend online, the greater their chances are of experiencing one of these devastating encounters, which could lead to the possibility of:
- porn addiction (read Good Pictures Bad Pictures to teach your kids about the process of addiction),
- sextortion (a form of blackmail where someone threatens to share a nude or sexual image or video of you unless you give in to their demands),
- and being hurt by tricky predators.
The second voice: Brain Defense
Parents know that often their children are more likely to listen to their peers than to them. That's where Brain Defense comes in. It’s a digital safety curriculum taught by fun and engaging teens, providing that persuasive second voice that resonates with kids.
3 reasons your kid will love Brain Defense:
1. Peer Influence: Kids often listen to other kids. When their older peers talk about the importance of limiting screen time and taking care of their health, kids listen and take it to heart.
2. Engaging Content: Brain Defense is designed to be enjoyable and educational. It makes learning about the effects of excessive screen time and digital dangers fun, which is more likely to capture your child's attention.
3. Interactive Learning: The interactive nature of Brain Defense’s workbooks allows kids to participate in the learning process. They can better understand the reasons behind screen time limits when they're engaged in the discussion.
Partner with your child
Partner with your child to develop screen time limits by teaching them about the harmful effects of digital overuse. Equipping them with this knowledge will empower them to join your side in the screen time battle. In this way they can grow into healthy, balanced individuals who appreciate the value of both the digital and real worlds.
Brain Defense: Digital Safety Curriculum - Family Edition
"Parents are desperate for concepts and language like this to help their children. They would benefit so much from this program - and I think it would spur much needed conversations between parents and children.” --Jenet Erikson, parent