Statistics say that the average 8- to 10-year old child spends almost 8 hours a day with a various media. For older children and teenagers, the number goes up to more than 11 hours per day. I’m sure for many of us adults, the numbers are similar, if not higher. We live in a world inundated with technology — and with the good comes the bad. Learn how TeenSafe is trying to fight screen addiction.
Fight Screen Addiction
10 years ago, screen addiction was almost non-existent. When Colby and I tell our children that we only had Saturday morning to watch cartoons, they simply cannot understand the concept of not having it on-demand. Times have changed. Technology has changed. Now, we can pretty much any movie, TV show, cartoon, or video available with not more than the touch of a few buttons. For example, if we can’t be near a TV for the football game on Sundays, Colby has an app on his phone that allows us to watch from anywhere. Phone use goes much further than a call or text anymore.
Screen addiction has been shown to adversely affect a child’s social development, school performance, and even their safety. They can suffer from not getting enough sleep, lack of exercise, and even low self-esteem. Having a device constantly in their hands lowers their understanding of face-to-face relationships, and therefore friendships become harder to cultivate. All of this to say, perhaps it’s time we all unplug as a family and find out how to fight screen addiction. These basic steps can help us get started so we can continue to guide our children to do so as well.
- Put together a family media policy. Allow the older children to have a say in what the policy will look like. By allowing them to be part of the process, they will be likely to take ownership and participate.
- Establish tech-free times or zones. For example, we insist on a phone-free dinner. The only phone at the table is the one streaming music for ambient noise in the background. Otherwise, texts and calls can wait until after our family meal is over.
- Offer alternative activities. Once you’ve established a plan, have other options available for the family. Unplugging each evening between a set number of hours could mean that time will be used for family game night, a neighborhood walk, or reading.
- Place devices in common areas. Set up a space in the house for the family computer or devices to be used. This allows the time online to be monitored and offers more accountability to each family member.
- Remove unnecessary apps from your phone. In a social media heavy world, this could be a tough one. But, by removing the apps that demand most of our time and attention, such as Facebook or Twitter, it removes the temptation.
- Join TeenSafe in fighting screen addition. #FightScreenAddiction is a digital campaign specifically designed to raise awareness about the dangers of screen addiction in our children. You can help start conversations with those around you by visiting TeenSafe.com
Our children learn by example. I have believed it since my oldest daughter first repeated an action of mine. Once we, as adults, learn to balance our on- and offline life, they will see the change and understand the need to step away. Speaking of steps, it simply starts with one. Once you take the initial step of admitting you have a problem, you will have the freedom to move forward and join TeenSafe in the fight against screen addiction.