By Traci Haly, Admissions Officer
Today, there are many uncertainties for parents when it comes to making decisions about their children and "screen" time. Technology surrounds us and the current generation is the most tech-savvy ever. So how much tech is too much and what can we do about it?
HBA's Parent-Teacher Fellowship addressed this issue by hosting a free screening of the documentary Screenagers. In the film, physician, director and parent Delaney Ruston, points out these facts:
- Teenagers spend an average of 6.5 hours a day looking at screens, not including school work.
- Boys spend the equivalent of 1.5 days on video games every week.
- Screen time increases dopamine production in the brain and causes addictive behaviors.
- 53% of kids feel addicted to their mobile devices.
- Excessive screen time has been linked to poor school performance (Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 2007).
What are we, as parents, supposed to do with these astounding statistics? Dr. Ruston recommends making a family screen time agreement keeping the following in mind:
- Define your family's general principles about balancing screen time and other activities and the reasons why it is important to your family.
- Define family rules regarding "tech limits" and when screens should be put away (meal times, bedtime, in cars, in the bedroom, etc.)
- Establish incentives for following the rules and consequences (rather than punishments) for breaching the contract.
- Allow wiggle room or flexibility to change the contract as the family dynamics and circumstances change or to allow for exceptions to the contract when appropriate.
For more helpful tips on managing tech, here is a great resource: Andy Crouch, author of The Tech-Wise Family
There are also many free and paid apps available to parents by searching "screen time management" in your device's App store.