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Less Screen Time Means Healthier Kids, Families

Smartphones and iPads have made it easy to entertain small children, and teens are hooked on their cellphones.

Since so many children and young adults are spending many hours a day staring at screens, we need to ask: What are they missing? What is it doing to their brains? Will too much screen time harm them?

An internet search for “harmful effects of too much screen time” results in pages of links that leave no doubt that there’s a serious problem. If anyone needs personal verification, all they have to do is listen to the experiences of classroom teachers, pediatricians and child psychologists in regard to how many children’s behaviors have been affected by the overuse of technology.

The good news is there are things parents can do about it. While appreciating the positive aspects of the internet, computers and other new technologies, parents and other caregivers can take advantage of the excellent information available that tells them how to eliminate the dangers of too much exposure.

Encouraging children to play outside, banning electronics during meals and before bedtime, strictly limiting screen time, speaking to and looking at one another more often, doing physical activities together, playing board games as a family — all of those help. It also helps to make available blocks, cardboard boxes and other items so young children can use them to build things. Having art and writing supplies available so they can create art and express themselves helps, too.

And let them be bored. Boredom is the impetus children need to come up with ideas of their own, to enjoy quiet time, to think and to solve their own problems.

Many parents also need to limit their own time on smartphones, especially when their children are present. Parents who cherish the time they have with their children will never regret it.

Excerpted from a column by Pat Nash in the Baraboo News Republic. There is much more information contained in this article, including the specifics of how too much screen time can cause problems with childhood development. Read the entire article by clicking on this link