Screen time for children and teens

Living808

We’re talking with Rhesa Kaulia and Edwina Reyes from Ho`oko LLC on the truth about screen time.

Screen time is the time a child, tween, or teen uses some kind of electronic device. This could be their smartphones, laptops, iPads, Apple or other smart watch, various gaming devices, including a computer, or simply watching TV. Young people use screens nowadays for virtually everything, including to complete homework, to text talk with peers, for social media, and to socialize while engaging in playing video games.

So, how much screen time is too much? The most commonly cited statistic, including by the National Institute of Health, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, is that young people engage in screen time on average about 7 hours a day.  Additionally, the tendency is to use more than one device at a time.  Not surprisingly, the average child spends at least 3 hours a day watching television.  4 in 5 tweens are on social media by age 12.   6 in 10 children don’t get enough sleep because of screen time.

There are a few problems with screen time.  First, the earlier that screen time is introduced (and we are seeing this with babies, toddlers and young children now), the more it affects the child’s brain development, and the more likely they will have difficulty later in life, managing their screen time, often leading to addictions.  The formative years are the most critical time in the child’s development as children’s brains are literally like sponges, absorbing everything, and setting the tone for what is to come.  Additionally, we are seeing an increase in health problems, including childhood obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, all which put the child at risk for heart disease later in life.  Sleep hygiene is impacted because children are up too late on screens.  We see difficulty with school and a lack of interest and ability  for young people to sustain their attention on anything that Is not screen related. There has also been an increase in internet safety concerns, and the risks this imposes.

One solution to this problem is for parents to learn how to navigate screen time in their home. First and foremost, talk with your children about this.  Establish clear rules around screen time and consider making it  a privilege; role model healthy habits; don’t allow electronics during meal times; discourage using multiple screens at a time; educate about social media; do family activities that don’t involve electronics; and create screen free days. 

If you’re a parent who needs more guidance on this issue, seek counseling from a therapist who specializes in developmental and relational issues in families.  Ho`oko LLC’s Counseling Center provides services for these types of situations.  Often people don’t realize that counseling services are covered by most major health insurances.  If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact their office at 808-375-7712 or visit them online at www.hookollc.com

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