It’s like a drug, they can’t get enough. They’ll mysteriously forget about homework assignments just to get it. They’ll fight you tooth and nail not to lose it. It’s one of the biggest issues that reduce cooperation for many parents and if they could, they would pass up sleep and food just to have more of it. What I’m talking about is entertainment media for children, and it is highly addictive. It’s also referred to as SCREEN TIME and it exists in the form of video games, television shows, computer usage and the Internet, and it must be controlled, supervised and allowed in moderation. If parents would just understand and implement this, they would get a bonus of more cooperation from their children. Chores would be done as planned and homework would be completed as agreed.
According to a recent article that appeared on numerous news Web sites, British research is warning parents that too much screen time in childhood will lead to a greater level of screen addiction as they mature. Watching something can have the same chemical effect in the same regions of the brain as substance abuse and gambling. These activities result in the release of the ‘feel good’ chemical Dopamine that acts as the reward for doing something you enjoy. This leads to the drive in the brain (addiction) to want to engage in the addictive behavior more often.
There is well-established literature showing the adverse effects of screen experience on the cognitive development of children under three and, as a result, the US Pediatric Association has recommended no screen time before this age. As children get older, screen time should be managed and allowed in moderation. Too much screen time can interfere with being physically active, reading, doing homework, spending time with family, and even playing with friends. Experts have even tied screen time to problems with attention span in children. It’s becoming such an issue that technology addiction centers are beginning to pop up around the country.
If you’re a parent who is ready to step up and manage screen time for your children. Here are 10 things to begin implementing immediately to fight this dangerous addiction:
- Place computers that the child uses, in a common area for you to monitor
- Install monitoring software on the computer if your child is able to use it when home alone
- Establish a 30 – 60 minute daily limitation on screen time during the week
- Ban screen devices from bedrooms (TVs, computers, and handheld devices)
- Don’t allow games on the same electronic reader device that your child uses for books
- Secure your wireless router and put parent control on all your children’s’ devices
- Handheld devices should be “signed out” for use and then “signed back in”
- Smart phones aren’t for children or young teens and should be monitored
- Walk your talk and limit your own screen time to set a healthy example
- When you implement these changes, don’t get angry when your child objects