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Kids and Screen time-tips and resources for teaching healthy habits and finding balance. A book giveaway is included for a limited time only!

Have your kids entered the age where technology use has become one more thing to think about each day? I recently read a statistic that said the average child in the US engages in 4-7 hours of screen time per day…per day! Think about how often we use technology for learning, then add entertainment, interaction as in phone calls and, bam, you have a lot of screen time! Kids screen time is a big parenting issue these days.
I could not believe the stats of kids and cell phones that Krissy, of B-Inspired Mama, shared in a recent article she wrote on the subject. An interesting infographic regarding how much and how young children are using technology and getting their own cell phones amazed me!
What age is appropriate for a child to have their own phone?

How is this monitored and protected by mom and dad? 
My husband and I have started to talk about what age we think will be appropriate for our kids to have their own phones. It is a security and safety issue in some homes. How did we manage in our childhood with no cell phones?
“Too often children are given screens to pacify and occupy them when it’s not an emergency or special occasion. Instead of learning how to live in the real world of communicating with people and occasionally feeling bored, they are given a screen world for their entertainment pleasure. More and more studies demonstrate the adverse effects of screen time on the brain and your child’s social and emotional development”  (Growing Up Social, pg. 28).
How much is too much?  
Is giving the kids the smart phone in a doctor’s appointment harmful?
How about on a trip in the car?
How can I protect the safety of my children in a world without boundaries such as the internet and social media?

There are resources linked here to help answer these questions and more!

Kids Screen Time Tips

The book Growing Up Social: Raising Rational Kids in a Screen-Driven World, by Dr. Gary Chapman, (author of the book The 5 Love Languages), and Arlene Pellicane, discusses this very topic and provides strategies for parents to find balance in this tech world with kids and screen time.

“Parents are needed more than ever to provide instruction, correction, and positive modeling to a child regarding screen time, even if this digital world seems like unfamiliar territory. We live in a brand-new era when children are digital natives and many parents are digital immigrants. In other words, many children know more technology than their parents, and that is quite different from how the world worked hundreds of years ago” (Growing Up Social, pg. 169).

My children have entered the ages where questions about screen time have to be answered.  It is not always easy to decide how much they  can use the iPad, phone or TV.

Often I find myself wanting to be a “yes mom. ” My kids want to play with the educational phone apps and it is learning, but saying yes all the time to technology use is not good for my children. Sometimes no is necessary.

Karyn, of Teach Beside Me, reviewed the book Growing Up Social on her blog, and said some great things about it. I encourage you to read Karyn’s review whether you are interested in entering the giveaway below or purchasing the book for yourself.

It is not just the screentime limits to consider either. Focusing on our children’s mental health is a real concern. Take a look at the Guide to Kids’ Mental Health and Sleep. There is also a great Kids Sleep Calculator that can help set the boundaries for screentime at night in your home.

We parents have to educate ourselves and set an example of constructive screen use. It does our family-building harm if we are always staring at a screen rather than interacting face-to-face. Families are not really experiencing time together if each member is on their own device at the end of the day.Limits need to be in place. I am still trying to find that balance in my home, but we err on the side of less. Sometimes we have to say “no.”

The online medical information site Medline Plus, run by the National Library of Medicine at The National Institutes of Health, has a great article entitled “Screen time and children” that sums up the effects of screen time on our developing young children…and not so young children, if you have teens in the house. It is not a simple problem or simple parenting issue, but their are strategies for keeping screen time in balance.
“When a screen-driven child faces an uncertain task, they often disengage and stop paying attention. They check out mentally when they hear something that doesn’t interest them.
In the screen world, children are trained daily to get what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. That may hold their attention fast, but it doesn’t sound much like the real world we are preparing our children to live in” (pg. 98).

We all have to teach our children about technology and screen time. How do you teach self-discipline in this area?

 Implement these 4 tips to help kids learn to balance their screen time use.

 Some things I have done to use my phone and screens less are:
-Turn off notifications from social media apps and only keep the phone ring and text message signal on so I am not tempted to check each new notice of something new that is not really urgent.
-Only check social media 1 or 2 times per day (morning and evening), OR LESS. I tend to check it more when I have nursing infants in the house, but when I am busy with my kids, I use it less.
-No phone usage at the dinner table, in our kids rooms, or in our master bedroom…aside from the alarm clock feature!

-Let the kids use the devices with time limits…even if the apps they are using are educational.

-Set time limits for technology use, and enforce them. Use a kitchen timer to keep everyone accountable and give kids a concrete ending to their screen time.

There are many activities we can do face-to-face with our infants, toddlers, preschoolers and older kids; they do not need to be using technology every day. When my children are infants and toddlers we do not have them use technology much or at all since their brains are much less mature and their attention spans are still developing.We still have movie days here and there, and allow our kids time to use technology under our supervision, so we are not a “tech free” house by any means. Use your discretion as the parent.

I mentioned in my post about Free Preschool Online, that we set the limit of 15 minutes for each of our children on a portable electronic device most days. Of course when we are traveling long distances on a road trip with kids, we relax on that rule a bit.

Making a plan about technology use in the home is a great start for keeping a balance for all family members when it comes to screen time.

How do you monitor your kids’ screen time? Do you limit it?

Teaching children balance in their use of technology and balancing their screen time. Resources and tips plus a giveaway for a limited time only.

 This article is featured in A Complete Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms: Parenting Tips.

View all of the included resources HERE.


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