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Posts for tag: screentime

If you feel like you’ve lost control of your family’s screen time and digital consumption, you’re not alone. Healthcare professionals and technology leaders have seen a tremendous rise in technology use among children and adults. One recommendation they have to help monitor your family’s digital device use is by creating a family media plan.

Here are 8 key areas to focus on as you build out a plan that works for your family:

A Healthy Balance

Technology is here to stay and it’s going to continue to grow at a phenomenal rate. Finding a healthy balance between digital-use and when to put the technology away will keep your family connected to one another on a deeper level. Less screen time will give you more time to connect, play outside, experience new things and explore your neighborhood.

Screen Free Zones

Designate certain areas of your home to be screen-free. As a family, make an agreement that you will not use phones, tablets, games or computers in these areas. That means no charging either. Designate a charging area for all electronics. Key tech-free zones include:

  • Child’s bedroom
  • Kitchen table or dining room table
  • The family room

Screen Free Times

Make it a habit to have certain times of the day that are tech-free. This will give you a chance to discuss your day, catch up on what happened throughout the day, and wind down for the day. Key times can include:

  • On the way to school in the morning
  • On the way home from school
  • The first hour after getting home from school
  • Meal times
  • One hour before bedtime

Device Curfews

Designate a time of night that all phones and tablets must go to sleep. By setting a curfew time, your family will get into a habit of retiring their devices to their charging station every night at the same time and trigger the start time for their own bedtime routine.

Quality Media Selections

The quantity of media available to your family is astonishing. Together with your children, choose quality media that you both can agree on. Delete any apps that are not educational or do not have a parental setting option. When you enjoy media time as a family, engage with your children and the games they’re playing or videos they’re watching. Show an interest and ask questions.

Digital Censorship and Safety

Cyber space can be a dangerous place in more ways than one. Start the conversation early with your children and educate them on the right and wrong way to use technology. They should know how to spot trouble, how to react to strangers, when to report bullying and how not to be a bully. As a parent, check in with your child often and ask questions so that you can spot the signs early and address accordingly.

Sleep & Exercise

Technology can never replace the physical activity that your child’s body needs and craves. Digital down time will allow your child to be active and play, boosting the body physically and mentally. Sleep is also very important to a growing child. Devices in the bedroom compete for your child’s attention, keeping them up later and affecting their quality of sleep. Creating the bedroom to be a tech-free zone at bedtime will give your child a better night’s rest.

As you build out your media plan, keep in mind that this is a working plan that should be updated throughout the year as your family’s schedule changes. It’s important to create your plan as a family and get your children’s input. You may be surprised at how much time they are willing to and want to spend away from their devices.

Your Pediatrician Can Help You Build Out a Media Plan That’s Right for You

Children’s Medical Center can be a valuable resource for any questions you have when it comes to creating healthy bonds with your children. If you need help creating a media plan, we are happy to help lead you in the right direction. Call us today and schedule a consultation.

The National Institutes of Health has launched a study that will be conducted on kids ages 9-10 throughout the United States. The study is in the early phases and will last ten years, but the early results are fascinating. Although the study will take years, here are some of the results to date:

  • MRI results from 4,500 participants showed varying differences in the brains of children that use digital screens more than seven hours per day. The biggest difference being premature thinning of the cortex.
  • Kids who spend more than two hours per day on screens are already performing lower on thinking and language tests.

The study was highlighted on ‘60 Minutes’ which featured multiple doctors and researchers that are taking part. We highly encourage you to watch the full segment to see how screen time could be affecting your child’s brain. Here are few key takeaways:

  • Babies younger than 18-24 months should avoid digital use completely, other than facetime for phone calls. The first two years is one of the most crucial times for brain development in children.
  • When Toddlers are using i-pads, tablets and phones to watch videos or play games, their attention is captured for a much longer period of time than during any other type of play. The products are designed to hold their attention as long as possible. Parents should control the amount of time a child is using them, and an adult should always be present.
  • Findings are showing that the percentage of teens that say they are lonely or depressed has spiked in recent years. A test that limited college-students to just 30 minutes of social media use a day, found that they felt significant decreases in loneliness and depression. Talk to you teen about how much time they are spending on social media.
  • Scans on the brains of young adults are showing a dopamine effect when they are actively using their phones. The release of dopamine has a role in cravings and desire. This constant gratification means they are much more likely to be impulsive and stay on social media compulsively.

Technology is here to stay — it’s part of your day-to-day, but how you use it, engage with it and allow it to be a part of your young child’s life is up to you. If you have any questions about how this technology is affecting your child, please call Children’s Medical Center. Our doctors are happy to help guide you an assist in creating a media plan that works best for you and your family.