Soooo….Screen time. Every parents No 1 guilt complex today.
Yes I know. We couldn’t live without technology. I’m one of its chief advocates. We love it for many great reasons and don’t worry it’s definitely not going away. Nor would we want it to. But it’s time to start creating a balance in our homes.
The general consensus amongst parents and teachers, psychologists, health practitioners, online safety organisations, children’s charities – and even governments worldwide is that our children are exposed to too much screen time.
There are many physical and psychological reasons why we need to create balance with screen time, for our children and ourselves – some obvious, some not so much and many parents are aware of this. We’re researching the risks and benefits every day on these topics and will talk about them in future blogs.
But for the moment, parents are struggling, myself included. But it’s not all bad.
Watch the video here
It’s comforting to know as parents that your own gut feelings and experiences of impulsive, distracted, anxious, inattentive and perhaps even aggressive kids after hours of continuous gaming and social media is right. The experts agree with you. Setting rules and boundaries on screen time is essential for children’s physical and emotional well being. Everything in moderation, as our grannies would say .
Just this June (2018) and not before time, the World Health Organisation (WHO) added Gaming Addiction to the list of mental health disorders in its International Classification of Health Disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM-5). This of course applies to extensive time being spent on gaming. But there have been deaths and real harm in early adoption countries such as Taiwan and its time it was recognised globally.
Harmful social media behaviours are next on the list and ‘Internet Use Disorder’ is down to be included in the next edition. Subject to more research. As Forbes says ‘ Whether it’s a true addiction or not, these behaviours have psychological consequences’.
Over the last few years even developers who worked for social media giants have expressed regret at their part in developing ‘alluring’ features on the platforms. Sean Parker, Facebook’s founding President famously said ‘God knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains’.
Since 2015 it has been illegal in Taiwan for parents to allow children under 2 years old to use devices. It is also illegal there for Parents to allow children and teenagers excessive gaming time.
Unfortunately this side of the globe, some of us are at polar opposites eg Birmingham company Babeek who are hoping to make their fortunes with their newly designed ipad cot. Owner Gary Taylor admitted he and his wife cannot get their baby daughter to sleep without ‘white noise’ from an ipad which is the reason for the ‘pioneering’ dad’s crib design. More on this soon and would love to hear your thoughts on facebook talk2wayne.
So Step away from Fortnite and Red Dead Redemption children. (And parents put down your phone (after you’ve read this )). You’ll probably already be doing some of these but hope they’re helpful.
Wayne’s Top 15 Tips for creating healthy media habits at home:
- Talk early and often about healthy balance regarding screens, using examples that apply to your home.
- Be a role model. Don’t feel guilty about checking your phone, frequently it’s necessary – but try to minimise the distraction when with the kids.
- Use a good Parental Control.
- No devices at meals or sleep time.
- Friend and follow your children on social media. But don’t stalk them.
- Don’t text and drive. Set the example. Your children will do what you do when they drive. Not what you say.
- Protect them in an age appropriate way. Privacy needs grow as they get older.
- Remove photos and comments about them on social media when they ask you to.
- Ask them why they want to play an online game so long or use their phone again. Show them inspirational sports videos, cool music videos, educational animal and environment videos and youtube tutorials for something they’re interested in as an alternative to snapchat streaking, Instagram posting and more gaming.
- Choose for them sometimes. Lonely Planet or a good film might be a better choice than 5 episodes of Spongebob or Paw Patrol. (We still love you Spongebob!)
- Try not to get angry. Understand their sense of entitlement to devices. To them using devices is as natural as using the car, TV or fridge. You just need to help them find a balance.
- Kids and even teenagers know they need limits. Sit down, discuss and agree the family rules together- with age appropriate rules for each child. And rules for parents too.
- Easier said than done. But try to be consistent. Have No Devices Days and times and even Binge Days! But be consistent. It’ll cause less stress in the long run.
- Ensure as much as you can that they cultivate other interests early on in music, sports, arts and social activities and that they stick at them. So that as they grow up going online isn’t always the default.
- Lastly. Simply. Go. Outside .
Stay safe online
Note on our blogs..
To ensure these regular free Blogs are helpful to busy parents they need to be short. If you have any questions regarding the validity of statements within these blogs, please google or get in touch and we’ll direct you to the information sources and research. Everything in these blogs is backed up by our own research and experiences and very credible resources from developers, experts, researchers, analysts and of course, parents worldwide. But don’t take our word for it, we always encourage googling
Wayne Denner is a speaker, author and expert on Online Reputation and Wellbeing. Wayne helps young people protect and improve their digital presence. Visit waynedenner.com for more information.