Parents Who Want to Limit Their Children’s Screen Time Should Start with Their Own
We are a generation of parents addicted to screens. Just look around you, and you will see the vast majority of people surrounding you are looking at a screen rather than a person. And, our kids are taking notes. While most media-conscious parents are aware of screen time guidelines for children, most parents do not consider their own screen time limits. Sadly, even the parents who think they are doing a decent job of modeling healthy screen time limits are failing to put down the screens and connect with their children.
How Much Time Are Adults Spending Looking at Screens?
The American Academy of Pediatrics explicitly defines screen time rules as no screens for children under 18 months old, only one hour of screen time for children two to five years old, with the general rule of limited screen time after age six. But, adults are surpassing the general rule of screen time by massive amounts. According to a study by Common Sense Media, parents spend an average of nine hours on screens each day.
Screen time accounts for any screen you are viewing – television, a tablet, a smartphone, a computer, or any other electronic screen device. When you combine the amount of time you spend looking at these devices, you will be shocked. And, quite a bit of the screen time is for pleasure and not work. Unfortunately, the urge to be continuously connected online is causing a significant disconnect with our children.
The Great Disconnect
When parents are looking at their screens, they are not looking at their children. Many parents fall into the trap of believing they are simply multitasking, but their children view it differently. Psychologist Steiner-Adair explains that “[the] children she works with feel disconnected from their distracted parents, and talk about being mad and sad, or feeling like they are less important or fun than the device that is stealing mom’s attention.”
The most genuine connection comes from looking into someone’s eyes. You cannot do so when your eyes are glued to a screen. If you have ever dismissed your children or not looked into their eyes because you were scrolling through your phone, then your children may already be feeling disconnected from you.
Don’t Be a Hypocrite
Along these same lines, it is common for parents to place screen times rules on their children that parents do not follow themselves. As your children grow, they will notice that their parents apparently do not think it is harmful to spend hours looking at screens. So, it will become harder to enforce screen time rules for your children when you are not modeling healthy screen limits yourself.
If after reading this article, you feel as if you need to reevaluate your screen time usage, you are not alone. Screen time usage is a problem for many parents. Fortunately, there are tools, such as the Family Media Plan and Media Time Calculator, that will help you reconnect with the ones you love.