Screen time has a major impact when it comes to health. Frequently watching television, playing video games, and spending time online or in front of a phone or computer screen replaces socializing, going outside, exercising, playing, and having the physical activity required to be healthy. Spending too much time in front of a screen has many possible negative health effects such as obesity, problems sleeping, and behavior issues. Excessive screen time also contributes to the lack of social skills in adults, children, and youth.
The following tips can help individuals and families scale back on screen time.
Scale Back on Screen Time
- Share with family. In order to stay at a healthy weight, explain to your children that it is important to sit less and move more. Share with them some of the health benefits they will receive because of scaling back on-screen time. Explain that they will also have more energy. Also, it will help them develop and perfect new social skills that could lead to more fun with friends by building relationships and through participation in sports. Parents can take charge and set a positive example by limiting their own excessive screen time use.
- Set a screen time schedule. Most people spend an average of seven to 10 hours looking at a screen. The recommended amount of screen time is as follows: no screen time for children under age two, one hour a day for children ages two to 12 years old, and two hours a day for teens and adults. Start by cutting current screen time in half until you reach the goal of one to two hours or less a day.
- Cut back from social media. Social media has its advantages and disadvantages for many users. While some use social media as a way to keep in contact with loved ones, there are others who may need to utilize it for business. It is no argument that social media plays a major role in the lives of many. However, for many individuals, social media can also be a major time waster. Try to limit the amount of time spent daily on social media platforms by gradually cutting back more, especially on the days when screen usage is high.
- Create a screen free zone. Set up space in the home where no electronics are allowed, such as smartphones and laptops. For example, the kitchen and dining room can be a great screen-free zone reserved for meals and family conversations. Families could also choose to use no screens in the bedroom or bathroom without exception. Creating these screen-free zones will help reduce screen time and strengthen family bonding when you sit together.
- Enjoy the outdoors.
- Use apps to help you track. Use app timers and limitation tools to help you with scaling back on your screen time. Some smart phones and other devices come with built-in app timers and downloadable apps as well. These tools can help track how much time is spent on devices. Then, in some cases, devices can be scheduled to limit access to apps after a certain amount of time. This feature is great for parents who are monitoring their children’s use of devices.