There are links to hyperactivity, lack of concentration and poor sleep in children who experience high volumes of screen time. Here we share five handy tips to help you reduce the amount of time your child spends looking at a screen.
- This is not about pointing the finger at parents because we are all trying to do our best but... monkey see monkey do. Do you constantly have the TV on for background noise? Do you spend every free moment scrolling through your phone? Simply being a little bit more mindful of this can have a huge impact. Why not reach for a book or play music for background noise?
- For Christmas and birthdays, mix things up so that all toys and books don’t emit loud noises, lights and screens of some sort. This can remind our children of all of the things they enjoy about screens. Picking up some great board games, books, puzzles and wooden toys will encourage play and interaction with engaging toys that do not involve screens.
- Boundaries are so important. In our house, Kids YouTube is only allowed at the weekend and I never imagine we could make this change. Before now it was a daily occurrence. If phones are “needed” now (i.e. on longer car journeys when a 5pm nap is not welcome) I allow my son to play games on my phone, but no YouTube). The rules did not go down well initially but now it’s completely normal, accepted and the difference in his behaviour is unbelievable.
- It is a good idea to avoid putting a TV or video game station in your children’s bedroom. It makes it very difficult to monitor how often your children are using them. Many game systems and computers also emit a hum or fan noise which can affect your child’s sleep. The bedroom is a place for sleep, reading and their favourite toys.
- Talk to your children about the dangers of too much screen time. They may respond better if they understand that you are setting these boundaries to help them in the long run. Nightmares, headaches and poor sleep are good places to start.
Written by Tracey Quinn staff writer at FFHQ who also blogs at www.loveofliving.ie.