Family Time VS. Screen Time
Technology is part of life
More and more, kids seem to spend most of their time with technology.
Instead of playing outside, they are more likely to be found watching television or playing games on a tablet.
Kids may need to be in front of a computer to do their schoolwork, just as you may need to do your work on the computer, but spending a lot of free time in front of a screen is not good for a child’s development.
The value of a good parent
Educational apps and computer programs are great, but our children need us even more.
While we may not be able to teach our kids how to do long division, we can teach them how to communicate, interact with others, and build relationships.
Our children need free time away from screens and with their family and friends to truly thrive as human beings.
Technology can turn our kids into great learners, but quality family time can turn them into great people.
It should be noted that we actually have a post on how to use technology for quality time, but in this post, we will touch upon the question – how much technology is too much.
Your children won’t remember the times you were both on your devices, but they will remember the time you spent talking and listening to them.
Some scary stats
While technology can be helpful, it should be avoided for really young kids.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children under the age of two should not spend any time in front of a screen.
This can be difficult when you have older kids who want to watch their morning cartoons or if you like to watch the news while you feed your infant.
Previously, the Academy suggested at maximum two hours a day of screen time for children two or older, but in 2016, they revised their guidelines. Now, it is recommended that children aged 2-5 should only spend up to one hour a day in front of a TV or tablet.
The AAP says parents can determine how much screen time their children have when they are 6 years old or older, though they recommend it be as limited as possible.
Despite the guidelines, most children spend approximately 3 hours watching television every day, in addition to 2-4 hours spent in front of a computer or tablet.
Excessive screen time can lead to sleep issues, obesity, anxiety, depression, and attention problems.
It can also hurt young children’s vocabulary and their ability to communicate and empathize with others.
A 2014 study, for example, found that after only five days of no screen time, preteens were better able to recognize nonverbal emotional cues, which are really quite crucial for having a meaningful conversation with people.
When your family spends time together, it can be easy to watch television or pop in a movie, but think about trying other activities that promote communication instead.
Low tech games like cards and board games are better choices for family time. Even just talking together at the dinner table counts as quality time as a family.
Try to spend a weekend or even just one night completely unplugged and engaged with each other.
You can make some great family memories doing something out of the ordinary or even just relax and spend some real time together.
Your children won’t remember the times you sat on the couch next to them while you were both on your devices, but they will remember the time you spent talking and listening to them.
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time-can-really-do-kids-brains. Accessed 17 Nov 2017.
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medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000355.htm. Accessed 16 Nov 2017.
Uhls, Yalda, et al. “Five days at outdoor education camp without screens improves preteen
skills with nonverbal emotion cues.” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 9, Oct 2014,
Science Direct, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563214003227.
Accessed 16 Nov 2017.