SCREEN TIME HOW TO GET YOUR KIDS OFF THE SCREENS AND INTO THE OUTDOORS
As I sit here and look at my kids
this evening I begin to wonder. My wife and I have 7 children (6 living at
home) and we try to keep them as involved as we can in things other than
SCREENS. But this evening (Because of the snowy cold winter night) they are all
having Screen Time. There are my 3 smallest watching a cartoon on Netflix, the
middle 2 are playing video games (Mind Craft I believe) and the oldest is
surfing Instagram on his iPod while watching his brothers playing video games.
I thought to myself, what has happened to kids in this generation.
Studies show that kids ages 2 to 8 spend on average
2.5 – 3 hours per day and teens age 8 to 18 spend more than seven hours a day,
looking at screens (some of this is at school looking at computer screens). The
new warning from the AHA (American Heart Association) recommends parents limit
screen time for kids to a maximum of just two hours per day. For younger
children, age 2 to 5, the recommended limit is one hour per day. Aug 6, 2018,
CBS Morning News https://www.cbsnews.com/news/parents-need-to-drastically-cut-kids-screen-time-devices-americanheart-association/
time has an effect on health:
·Influences Eating Behaviors – Kids get transfixed on the screen
and forget to eat or forget to understand the signs they are full and continue
·May Increase Obesity Risks – Lack of physical
exercise and continual snacking/eating
·Disrupts Sleep Quality – The blue light that’s emitted from
these screens can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, increase
alertness, and reset the body’s internal clock (or circadian rhythm ) to a
·Behavior Problems – Elementary school-age children who watch TV
or use a computer more than two hours per day are more likely to have
emotional, social, and attention problems. Excessive TV viewing has even been
linked to increased bullying behavior.
There are so many long
term side effects and health risks of too much screen time, let alone the
massive amount of wasted time that could be used for more productive things.
Kid’s imaginations are disappearing at an alarming rate. As a kid, I played
outside all the time where the sky was the limit to what I could imagine and
dream up. Now they are being told what to imagine by the screens. Their ability
to communicate verbally with people and interact and socialize with them is
almost a lost art. It is time to unplug and find some new “Screen Time”
So in our home (currently
living with us) our kids ranging from 18 down to 5. We have a kid that fits
into almost every category. How can we, in our home, make sure that our kids
don’t fall into this category of too much electronic screen time?
It is important that your kids know that there are beautiful things out in the
world beyond the screens. Take them to new places and introduce them to the
world around them. Whether it be in the city or out in the country.
It is important for kids to learn how to get to know other kids. And especially
to learn how to communicate with others. Verbal communications skills are
becoming a lost art but are something they will need as they grow into
adulthood. Take them to the park where there are other children playing
(hopefully there are other kids playing, LOL). Let them interact with the kids
and learn how to get along and communicate.
Get the kids outdoors. Go for a walk, a bike ride. Take them hiking or to a
sporting event. Go for a picnic in the park. Look for things you can do with
your kids that you enjoy doing together. There are so many things out there
that your kids will never know about if you don’t introduce them.
As you start doing more things away from the screen, find ways to teach your
kids about things you see and do and be enthusiastic about it. If you go for a
bike ride, take the time to help them make sure their bike is ready. Check the
tires, make sure the breaks work and that you have the right safety equipment
(helmets, reflectors, etc.) Take those moments to see that even when you are
learning you can have fun. These can be some of the greatest life lessons you
ever teach. And they can and will have long-lasting effects on your kids.
Make sure that your kids enjoy what you’re doing. Kids crave screen time
because it entertains them. Make sure what you are doing with them is for their
entertainment, not yours. If your children are 4 and 6 years old you can’t take
them to an art gallery, while you may totally enjoy that your kids would be
bored. Get down on their level and enjoy what they enjoy.
One of the best things about nature is
that it is one big screen!!! Get out there and let your kids find out what
nature is all about. Whether that be going for a short hike or going camping,
let them be outdoors and learn to enjoy the quiet and peace that is felt there.
That sunset that will never be forgotten. That butterfly that lands on their
nose and tickles their face with its wings. These things will be etched in
their minds and bring you closer together.
I challenge you for the
next month (well make that when it gets a little warmer, lol) to spend as much
“Screen Time” with your kids as possible. It will have lasting positive effects
on both your life and theirs and you both will be happy you did.