The amount of screen time in our lives is a challenge for everyone. The impact of screens on kids is even more pronounced. Between social media, virtual hangouts, games, and television, there are few moments in the day when your child is looking forward or up. Some studies show averages between six to nine hours a day for children aged eight to18!
How do you balance screen time and other activities when there are only so many hours in the day? The good news is that physical activity for even just an hour a day can bring the mind and body back to a more balanced state. Finding a balance between screen time and everything else life has to offer is as important as good nutrition is to a growing mind.
Here are four ways to balance screen time for kids:
1. Resist the Resistance
Kids are growing up with technology that’s still pretty new to adults. This makes it difficult for them to understand the importance of letting go of the devices and screens for even a few minutes. It’s easy to give up after being told, “I don’t want to,” 50 times. But insisting on screen use limitations and filling the time by moving the body will be appreciated later. The little arguments now won’t mean anything in the future.
2. Let Them Choose
Forcing the issue typically ends with negative results. The way to find a lasting solution is to allow your child to try and choose from a variety of activities. What was fun for you as a child may not be appealing at all to your kids, so let them explore until they have something they actually want to leave their screens for. This leads to a much easier time adhering to screen time limitations and less frustration for everyone.
3. Turn It Around
When all else fails, sometimes you can use screen time to your advantage. Because of the past year’s circumstances, there are many more virtual options available for people of all ages to keep their bodies moving and minds engaged. The occasional virtual activity can be just the thing to keep your kids feeling “connected” without giving in to just sitting around. And this is a great opportunity to join in and spend time with your kids doing something they enjoy in a familiar setting.
4. Begin at the End
A great way to set up a healthy balance with zero effort is to make sure screen use stops between 30-60 minutes before bedtime. Ending the day with reading, family time, or just quiet time creates a habit of independence from screens and allows kids to see that time away is easy. This also gives you at least one block of time during the day where screen use can be strictly enforced without too much push-back. They may not show it, but they’ll probably appreciate the better rest and decreased stress of staring at a light until right before sleeping.
The YMCA of Greater Whittier can help your child find the balance they need to grow strong in body and mind. From aquatics to camps, we have the people and the programs kids want to experience. Contact us today and find out why we’re helping to grow a better Whittier.