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Wellness Tip | Screen time for kids

Image of a child engaging with their smartphone

Parents might worry about how many hours their kids spend on their tablets, smartphones, or TV, but research has shown that the amount of time a kid spends on their screen may be less important than how dependent the child is on the screen.

How do you know if your child is addicted to their screens?

According to the Today’s Parent article by Jill Buchner, here are 9 warning signs your child might have an unhealthy relationship with screens:

  1. Unsuccessful control | It’s hard for my child to stop using screen media
  2. Loss of interest | Screen media is the only thing that seems to motivate my child
  3. Preoccupation | Screen media is all my child seems to think about
  4. Psychosocial consequences | My child’s screen media use interferes with family activities
  5. Serious problems due to use | My child’s screen media use causes problems for the family
  6. Withdrawal | My child becomes frustrated when they cannot use screen media
  7. Tolerance | The amount of time my child wants to use screen media keeps increasing
  8. Deception | My child sneaks using screen media
  9. Escapism or mood relief | When my child has had a bad day, screen media seems to be the thing that helps them feel better

Screen time and children: How to guide your child

As your child grows, you’ll need to decide how much media to let your child use each day and what’s appropriate for them. The Mayo Clinic recommends establishing clear rules and setting reasonable limits for your child’s use of digital media. Consider these tips:

  1. Encourage unplugged and unstructured playtime
  2. Create tech-free zones or times, such as during mealtime or one night a week
  3. Discourage the use of media entertainment during homework
  4. Set and enforce daily or weekly screen time limits and curfews, such as no exposure to devices or screens one hour before bedtime
  5. Consider using apps that control the length of time a child can use a device
  6. Keep screens out of your child’s bedroom and consider requiring your children to charge their devices outside of their bedrooms at night
  7. Eliminate background television

Continue reading the Mayo Clinic’s recommendations on promoting healthy lifestyles in children.