Children And Screen Time Addiction

Are you concerned about the amount of screen time your child demands?

When I was younger children only had the television to keep them occupied, or listening to music on the radio and if you were really lucky you would have had a music album... How things have changed! Now kids have numerous distractions like tablets, games consoles and mobile phones, all being constantly used by our youngsters.  

Of course in small doses these devices are beneficial to kids, they help aid their computer and internet skills which are vital in most jobs these days. However, if parents are really honest with themselves we would admit that our kids are using screens more than we like to admit.

A recent study by Kaiser Family Foundation showed that children aged between 8-10 years old are using technology devices for up to 8 hours a day and that older teenagers were the worst offenders with accumulating up to 11 hours a day staring at screens. It begs the question - what are our children doing all day? And why are we allowing them to spend so much using these devices?

For many families, the internet is a major part of our lives and not a day will pass by that someone will not use technology and media in the home. You will often notice that Facebook is full of snapshots on the weekend of day trips out with the family and constant check in’s to exciting places they are visiting.

Children And Screen Time Addiction
You will often notice that Facebook is full of snapshots on the weekend of day trips out with the family and constant check in’s to exciting places they are visiting.

Though this is perfectly understandable, how can we not as a nation turn off the net and concentrate on our family for even a few hours, in some cases, we are so obsessed with capturing the perfect family moment that we are (in essence) not enjoying the family moment to the full.  

Internet addiction is not a clinical diagnosis (at least not yet) and while we are well aware of the recommendations of screen time especially for our children, we do tend to ignore the warnings.

It is possible children will suffer in the long run due to their obsession with games that their school work will be ultimately put on the long finger. Grades may drop and reading skills can suffer hugely as media use takes over instead of reading and studying time, and it isn’t just the older kids at risk.

It is not unheard of for parents to hand little nippers as young as two years old their mobiles to keep them entertained especially when out and about. Colouring books and colours are a thing of the past and now if you look around cafes or restaurants you will see families that couldn’t be less engaged in each other with kids all staring into tablets or mobiles.

Technology, while brilliant, is taking our kids away from basic skills of conversation, socialising and playing with toys. In the future who knows where this will bring us? As we are the parents of the new generation it may be years before we see the results of too much screen time and too little real time spent together or with others. Will the future generations be able to hold conversations, read to a good level and spell perfectly? I suppose it depends on the kid themselves and our ability as parents to create a happy medium of screen time and reality.

Let’s remember how much fun it was to swing from trees, play hide and seek and read a brilliant exciting book for hours on end. Our children are the future so steer them well and reduce screen time a little, (maybe even reduce it for all the family). You will thank me in twenty years!

This content has been checked and certified by Cyber Safe Ireland whose mission is to empower children, parents and teachers to navigate the online world in a stronger, smarter and safer way.

Emma Hayes

Emma Hayes is a busy mum to two girls aged 17 and 11 and is married to her childhood sweetheart.

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