Try ‘ING’ Activities as the Antidote to ‘Too Much Screen Time’

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We all need to play our part in managing screen time. We are the first generation of parents having to juggle being 24/7 connected.

We don’t actually know the damage screen time may do to our kids mental or physical health and wellbeing yet – as the repercussions won’t be known for another 20 or 30 years despite what the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health recent new guidance to parents around children’s screen time suggests.

But what is certain is that we need to be a ‘Positive Role Model’ and to find a healthy balance around Technology & Social Media.
Children learn how to use & balance technology by watching us, as their parents, so modelling healthy habits by balancing media time with real time is really important.

One simple way to find that balance ( as it’s not about banning) is to start thinking about my ‘ING’ idea based around my #FamilyFun activities.

Replace screen time with something else that’s fun away from the screens – regardless of your kids ages – think ‘ING’ – bowlING, cyclING, playING, chattING, cookING, readING, dancING, buildING, explorING, gardenING … – you get the idea.

Children spell love T-I-M-E so make coming off the screens interesting and fun. Remember you’re building memories that will last both your lifetimes.

Don’t nag, lose your temper or trash your kids iPad like Kirsty Allsopp!

Think about what your kids are doing on a screen, put boundaries around what they watch, what they play and for how long they play for – then make coming off more compelling than staying on – don’t do what a recent client of mine suggested to their kids that they stop playing Fortnight to do their physics homework!

Head over to my #FamilyFun page on Facebook and post up your ideas, suggestions & pictures of your family having fun OFF screen!

Being a Role Model

Just ‘Pause to Ponder’ when you use your screen and for how long.

Are you on social media or pinging a quick email reply when your kids are trying to talk to you?

We’ve all been that parent. We answer emails, update Facebook, take a conference call, and try to get in that one last text. The thing is, kids notice and they will get naughty, play up or eventually copy you !

Lots of studies address the impact of screen time on kids but researchers are just beginning to look into the effect that parents’ screen use has on children.

  • A Boston Medical Center study of how families at a restaurant interacted with each other when they used mobile phones demonstrated that caregivers who were “highly absorbed” in their devices responded harshly to their kids’ bids for attention.
  • In her book ‘The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age’, Catherine Steiner-Adair found that children often feel they have to compete with devices for their parents’ attention.

It would be so much easier if the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health just gave us a recommended daily time limit so we’d all know when to stop but in the meantime, we’ll need to try to find a balance.

Here are the RCPCH series of questions which aim to help families make decisions about their screen time use for you to consider:

  • Is your family’s screen time under control?
  • Does screen use interfere with what your family want to do?
  • Does screen use interfere with sleep?
  • Are you able to control snacking during screen time use?

The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) suggests more specific guidelines which I also recommend:

  • For children younger than 18 months, use of screen media other than video-chatting should be discouraged.
  • Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming/apps and use them together with children, because this is how toddlers learn best.
  • Letting children use media by themselves should be avoided.
  • For children older than 2 years, media limits are very appropriate. Limit screen use to no more than 1 hour or less per day of high-quality programming. Co-view or co-play with your children, and find other activities for to do together that are healthy for the body and mind (e.g., reading, teaching, talking, and playing together).
  • All children and teens need adequate sleep (8-12 hours, depending on age), physical activity (1 hour), and time away from media.
  • Designate media-free times together (e.g., family dinner) and media-free zones (e.g., bedrooms).
  • Children should not sleep with devices in their bedrooms, including TVs, computers, and smartphones

Your Personalised Media Plan for Your Family.

I help parents develop a personalised media plan for their children.

A Media Plan should take into account each of your child’s age, health, personality, and developmental stage.

Once we have created your Family Media Plan it gives you clarity, confidence and balance and then it’s a good idea to remember to communicate your plan to other caregivers, such as babysitters or grandparents, so that your media rules are followed consistently.

If you’d like to work with me on your family’s Media Plan,  book an an appointment here for an hour and we can connect via Skype, FaceTime, speak on the phone or you can visit me at my Practice. 

Other Resources

You can download my ‘The Sue Atkins Appropriate Age and Stage Screen Time Checklist’ from my Resources page

You can also watch my Webinar, Screenagers? Electronic Babysitters? How Much Screen Time is OK for your Kids? bursting with my tried and tested tips, and some ‘pause to ponder’ moments.

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