How Much Screen Time Are YOUR Children Clocking Up?
Did you know that even after two hours of screen time, negative factors for your health start to set in? That is the revealing and shocking statistic from studies done by Dr. Sigman, a psychologist. He has done some very interesting research on this and there are countless other studies which support his theory and recommendations.
Now if you multiply that figure of two hours three times, we quickly see that we have a problem. Did you know that the average ten year old child in the UK can spend up to six or seven hours a day glued to some screen device?
We see kids and adults all the time, even when driving. We are surrounded by these devices. As well as the family TV, many kids have their own cell phone, an iPad, and even a TV in their own bedroom. It is no surprise that they are addicted.
What are the health risks?
We are not only talking here about attention span and inattention problems. The impacts are much more far reaching and can lead to:-
- Heart attacks
- Weight gain
- Social isolation.
- Cyber bullying
What about Facebook depression?
It is strange that few people are aware of the problems brought on by too many hours in front of the screen talking to virtual friends. It is no surprise that the American Academy of Pediatrics has warned that many cases of teen depression are the result of an overdose of Facebook activity.
But the main reason may be envy as everybody wants to show off on Facebook and maintain their image. Teaching our kids to keep this in check is just part of preparing them for life and making moderation a fundamental principle.
Limiting time on social media
If your child is younger than ten years there will be no need to have a Facebook account. We could follow Michelle Obama who told her daughters that they did not need to be on Facebook.
Of course with older children and teens, there may be peer pressure and resistance by parents may cause even more problems so it is better to take a common sense approach.
You can use an app which means that any access to social media can be blocked for up to a certain number of hours. You may find that you have to do this. Try to encourage teens to do other things such as outdoor activities preferably with you so that you can spend prime time with them rather than talking about virtual friends they have met on Facebook.
It is also wise to know who their friends are and also give them guidelines about accepting friendships. Needless to say, they should be warned about sharing any info online as this can be damaging later on and is the perfect bait for the cyber bully.
Bullying on Facebook
The figure released by the i-SAFE Foundation show that cyber bullying is widespread and growing. They estimate that about 50% of teens have been the target or will be at some point in their adolescence.
The desire to spread hurtful and hate filled messages together with insults and threats must not be tolerated. We should always advise our teens to report this immediately to us because the effects can be devastating and long lasting.
What can we learn from all this?
We need to take a common sense approach and try to encourage our kids to limit their time on these devices so that other activities do not get excluded.
We can also set a good example so we limit email time and Facebook too! It is a good idea not to give a reward for good behaviour by letting them watch more TV. There are also locks available so that the TV cannot be turned on at certain times of the day.
Needless to say, the TV should never be on at mealtimes and all electronic equipment should be banned from kids’ bedrooms. This also gives you the chance to monitor what is going on if the computer is in the common area.
Robert Locke MBE is an award winning author and has written extensively on ADHD and related child health problems. You can visit his blog on problem kids to find out more.
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