While we understand doing anything for a stress-free life, when it comes to our children, we have to wonder — are they having too much of a good thing?
We live in a highly technological age. Our children have grown up around television, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. They know how to swipe before they know how to write, and they are hardly ever more than a few steps away from an engaging, stimulating, and expensive piece of equipment. But is all this screen time good for them, their well-being and development? Below, we’ll explore five key reasons you might want to reduce screen time in your home — while also giving tips on what entertainment to enjoy as an alternative.
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1. Reduce Screen Time for a Better Night’s Sleep
While snuggling up with your child on the couch and watching an episode of their favorite show might sound like a comforting way to help them wind down, this strategy can backfire. The light emitted from phones, tablets, and flat-screen televisions is what we know as “blue light.”
This light is high-energy visible light that can affect our body’s circadian rhythm. Too much exposure to this blue light, especially at the wrong time of day, can disrupt our sleep/wake cycle, which can have serious health consequences — particularly for children, given how vital sleep is for their growth and development.
2. Too Much Screen Time Is Linked to Obesity
Excessive screen time has often been linked to obesity and poor health in general. Rather than going out, enjoying fresh air, and running around as kids should, too much screen time means children are inside, engaging in sedentary activity that contributes to weight gain. TheRCPCH's 2019 screen time studyrecently reconfirmed this, indicating too much screen time resulted in poor diets.
3. You Never Have Complete Control
Let’s look at things from a purely parental concern perspective. When children are using screens, how much can you really monitor their content? Though parental controls exist, they are not always sufficient. They cannot be tailored perfectly to you, your standards, and your beliefs about what is good content for your child. What might be completely child-friendly for another family might be concerning for you.
When you reduce screen time, you have more control over the influences within your child’s life.
4. Educational and Developmental Concerns
We have already touched on how the lack of sleep caused by screen time poses developmental concerns. These concerns were backed up by a 2019 study carried out by theUniversity of Calgary. The study — which tracked the progress of over 2,400 children — found that children who were frequently in front of screens showed delayed development. It’s also been demonstrated that watchingtelevision on school nights is bad for children's grades. Apparently, the more television a child watches, the worse they do in terms of academic testing. This isn’t to say that the odd half-hour of television will do damage — but reducing screen time can certainly help to improve a child’s focus and performance at school.
So if you reduce screen time or take screens away entirely, what is left to entertain your children? Thankfully, we have a lot of suggestions for you:
Good old fashioned reading— let your children read whatever they want, within reason. Let them develop their passion for reading and explore what they find interesting and entertaining. It might not be your thing, but as long as they’re reading, they’re doing their brain good.
Sports and games— Find out what sports your child is interested in and make a concentrated effort to help them develop this interest. If they’re not interested in any sport at the moment, introduce them to different sports and games gradually. They’re bound to find something to grab their interest.
Musical instruments— Your child is never too young to pick up a violin or to take to the piano! Lessons might not be cheap, but they certainly are a great investment.
Screen-free electronics— If your child loves audiobooks or listening to music, but you have confiscated every screen in the house, we have a solution for you. The Jooki music player is a screen-free alternative. The Jooki links to characters or tokens, and it is WiFi-enabled while being compatible with Spotify.
Screen-free family time— When was the last time your child had uninterrupted time with their family? Why not have one day out of the week where you unplug, play a board game, and laugh at terrible jokes — make memories and show your child that life is happening beyond the screen.