Do our children spend too much time on their smartphones?
Are you concerned about the lack of conversation you’re having with your child? Do you find your child is spending more time in front of screens than engaging with you? Well – you’re not wrong!
Studies have proven that children are spending a significant amount of time on their smart devices and are lacking engagement with their families. Advice from the UK's chief medical officers urges parents to take more control over their child’s time in front of the screen. Thankfully, this blog will help you understand the reasons behind this habit, how to identify any signs of addiction, and some recommendations to help reduce your child’s screen time.
According to research, children are spending an average of 23 hours a week staring at a screen, which is twice as much as they spend interacting with their parents. Clearly, this is a significant issue, but don’t worry, your children are aware of their “addiction”, according to the Pew Research Center. This study indicates, 60% of teens between ages 13 and 17 say that spending too much time online is a “major” problem facing their age group. More than half of teens (54%) admit they spend too much time on their mobile phones, and 41% say they overdo it on social media.
However, this smartphone addiction isn’t entirely their fault, as many children claim they’re just mirroring their own parent’s habits. On average, parents are spending just over 9 hours a day with social media, which is only half-an-hour more than teens. A vast majority of teens say that they find their parent or caregiver being distracted by their smart device.
Besides addiction, there are other serious implications linked to excessive screen time. On average, children aged eight to 11 spent 3.6 hours a day glued to a TV, playing video games or on a mobile phone. This amount of time in front of a screen affects sleep, which is linked to a drop in cognitive skills, such as language ability, memory and task completion. The physiological reason behind the electronic screens and reduced sleep time is because the blue light emitted from said screens tricks their brains into thinking it’s still daytime. Therefore, they don’t produce enough melatonin (sleep hormone) to fall asleep and get a good-quality rest.
Before any recommendations can be made, it is important to ensure that your child does have an addiction to their smart device. Inspiro Community Health Service has devised a list of five signs that your child is spending too much time online, which includes video games, on their phone or computer, and on social media.
Withdrawal from face-to-face social interactions. Opting for social interaction through portable devices.
Consistent anxiety, stress or feeling overwhelmed by regular routines. They may avoid responsibilities, such as chores or homework.
Their grades start to decline, and assessment reflects poor or uncompleted work.
They are socially awkward or unresponsive to the people around them.
They practice ‘phubbing’, which is ignoring a companion or companions to pay attention to their smartphones and tablets.
There are a number of recommendations that can be made to ensure your child doesn’t become one of these statistics. In short, parent’s need to take more control of their child’s time spent on their devices, which can include banning smartphones from family meals, or before bedtime. These recommendations could be perceived as common sense. However, parents need to enforce these screen time limits, or else there won’t be any improvement. Limiting phone data plans is another way to ensure young people do not spend too much time on their phones. However, the most important thing is to not be too heavy with your discipline, so rewarding your child when they’re involved in social interactions is something that many have proven to be beneficial.