Creative Child

Screen-Time Limiting Tips for Better Health

by Deborah Song

The intoxicating lure of the screen is not only a time-suck but poses a threat to the emotional, social and physical wellbeing of a child. Too much screen time combined with poor content quality has been linked to childhood obesity, irregular sleep schedules, behavioral problems, loss of social skills, violence and less time for play. Understanding the specific repercussions of unmitigated screen time can help in creating necessary guidelines. Here are some specific tips.

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Keep screens away from bedrooms and away from bedtime. Screens impede sleep. The blue light emitted by screens on cell phones, computers, tablets, and televisions restrain the production of melatonin, which makes it harder to fall and stay asleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to impulsive behavior and more erratic emotions. In order to prevent screens from negatively affecting sleep, end screen exposure at least one hour before bedtime. It’s also important to get screens out of your child's room so they establish healthy sleep associations.

 

No screen during meals. Being mindful of what you’re eating  - how it looks, tastes, feels and smells, can reduce consumption and increase food satisfaction. With childhood obesity on the rise, taking simple measures like this could help create good habits early on. Not to mention that much of what’s advertised on TV and YouTube is junk food.

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Don’t let TV be a coping mechanism. TV can be a good distraction. But the screen shouldn’t be a coping mechanism for kids. I personally started to notice that when my child got upset, she wanted the screen. Perhaps your child does too. As tempting as it is to stick a screen in front of your child to prevent a meltdown or tantrum, resorting to this tactic wouldn’t teach kids how to self-soothe. It’s important to shift the frame work of tantrums in young children from unacceptable to part of learning how to cope. A child needs to learn to cope through healthy outlets like exercise instead.

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