The Best Way to Limit Screen Time For Your Child’s Health

Children are spending an average of eight hours a day on their screens including television, computers, phones, tablets, and video games. A recent study suggests that 96.5% of high school students are required to have internet access to complete homework assignments outside of the classroom. Unfortunately, medical professionals are warning parents of the damage that too much screen time can inflict upon the health of their children. In this article, we will explore expert tips, programs, and advice so that you can discover the best way to limit screen time for the sake of your child’s health.

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New research conducted by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, the Family Online Safety Institute, and my CollegeOptions revealed that an astonishing 98.5% of students require internet access to complete their homework. Nearly 50% of those students also reported the necessity of daily internet usage for assignments.

Research Reveals Student Reliance Upon Internet Access

The rise in dependence upon computers and internet access in the educational system has resulted in a phenomenon known as the “homework gap” among students that do not have reliable access to the internet in their homes. Sadly, these students are significantly affected by this disadvantage because they have to be creative to find solutions to solve this academic dilemma. Students flock to public libraries, coffee shops, or drive through restaurants in order to get the free WiFi they need. However, this solution is dependent on whether or not they actually own a computer and if they are old enough to obtain their own transportation. The Hispanic Heritage Foundation reported that half of the students in their report could not complete their homework because they didn’t own a computer or have access to the internet.

Another study’s findings revealed that this disadvantage affected minority children more. Home internet access was more prevalent for white children (66%) and Asian children (63%) than for black (53%), Hispanic (52%), and American Indian/Alaskan Native children (49%).

BGCA Offers Solutions to Homework Gap Problem

The Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) is working to reduce this disparity amongst students across the nation by providing computers and internet access at its club, thus bridging the digital divide. BGCA has united with Comcast NBCUniversal to build the My.Future platform. This web space offers a secure, digital design that provides members with brilliant ways to improve their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills. The platform includes computer science, media making, leadership, visual arts, and lyricism as options. My.Future rewards the completion of every activity with badges and stars to encourage students to pursue higher academic excellence and a possible career in STEM. To know more about the Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s learning programs including My.Future, you can read my previously written article here.

How Limiting Screen Time Protects Your Child’s Health

The American Heart Association (AHA) released a new advisory statement linking too much screen time to increased inactivity in children and teens. Research shows a vicious cycle that too much screen time produces inactivity which results in poor cardiovascular health and an increased risk for obesity.

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Ophthalmologists are also concerned about the amount of time that children and teens are spending on their screens nowadays, and there are reasons why your annual eye exam involves questions regarding how many hours you devote to your screens each day. Research shows that too much screen time creates the following symptoms in children and teens: eye fatigue, dry eyes, and blurry vision.

Expert Advice on How To Limit Your Child’s Screen Time

Parents should monitor their child’s screen time and determine what percentage of that screen time should be devoted to homework if a lot of their child’s homework requires a computer and internet access. This is all part of the screen time regulation process that doctors believe is a matter of vital importance for the modern generation. According to Jamie M. Howard, Ph.D., and clinical psychologist:

“Some kids tend to get absorbed into screens and have a very hard time breaking away after their allowed time has elapsed. For these kids, I recommend that parents be strategic and allow access to screens when a natural break will occur within a desired amount of time. For example, your children could watch 30 minutes of TV or play one game before dinner, and then at dinnertime, they must stop the show, which will be over anyway, or end the game.”

Jamie also recommends an open line of communication when it comes to monitoring your child's online activity. She suggests implementing a “no screens” policy in the bedroom to help your children form healthy sleep habits at an early age.

Regulating your child’s screen time is an important responsibility as a parent, and it is in your child’s best interest even if it may be a struggle at first. Imposing family screen time rules will teach children time management skills and hold them accountable before health issues occur such as compromised vision, sleep deprivation, and general unproductivity. Another way parents can illustrate the importance of screen time regulation is to lead by example including unplugging from electronic devices during mealtime and an hour or two before bed.

Teachers should also take into consideration just how much screen time they are requiring of their students when it comes to homework. Modern technology has its benefits, but perhaps the old-fashioned pencil and paper route would work just as well in many instances.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no more than one to two hours per day of screen time for developing children and offers a family media use plan in an effort to curb the problems that are arising in the modern generation from too much screen time.

Conclusion

In conclusion, parents must hold their children accountable for the amount of screen time they have on a daily basis. Family screen time rules will teach their kids healthy digital habits for their adult life. They will be healthier and more productive as a result, whether they are in the classroom or at home.

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