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Glued To The Smartphone? Steps To Improve Mental Health And Manage Screen Time For Kids

Too much screen time spent in front of smartphones and tablets may interfere with kids’ language development, coping skills, and mental health. Thankfully, there are some steps that parents can take to adjust their children’s relationship with technology for the positive. Parents can set limits on much daily screen time kids can have, and offer strategies to help kids develop stronger emotional and mental fortitude.

Stick To A Schedule

FOMO and addiction to technology keep kid’s eyes focused on screens. Parents can schedule a time during the day when smartphones, tablets, TVs, and laptops must be shut-down, no exceptions. During mealtimes, both parents and kids should have device-free time, so parents lead by example. Using a penalty jar is helpful, and kids or parents who infringe on screen time rules must pay. The money that accrues can be used for a tech-free family outing.

Two Hour Before Bed Rule

Bright screens and blue light emitted from tech suppresses melatonin levels, which can disrupt sleep cycles. Kids should not be allowed to use phones to text, check social media, or play apps two hours before bed. Parents should talk to kids about how their sleep impacts their health, and finding healthy outlets to combat insomnia like drinking tea, meditation, or focused breathing. Instead of letting kids use the phone as an alarm or night light, choose an old-fashioned screen-free device.

Lean On Me

Kids need parents who make themselves emotionally available and can teach coping skills. Google and Quora may provide some answers, but Mom and Dad need to be a resource for their kids. Parents should take time out to talk to their kids every day, ask questions, and start a dialogue. Kids who feel comfortable talking to their parents, learn to develop trust, develop healthier awareness of their emotions, and are less stressed and anxious.

Promote An Off-Line Life

Addiction to screen time is hurting kid’s development of soft skills, ability to read non-verbal cues and use language correctly. Too much online time can increase stress, anxiety, and loneliness. Parents can help their kids by signing them up for sports, dance classes, theater, or music lessons, and encourage spending time offline with friends. Parents should be present at a kid’s extracurricular activities to show support, and schedule time for kids to read, write, and volunteer in the community.

Strategies For Well-Rounded Kids

Forcing kids to spend time off of their phone during dinner, and during family activities improve social skills and mental health. Parents can teach their kids to use meditation, exercise, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep to improve health. Journaling and talking about feelings, strictly off-line, help kids develop coping mechanisms for tough times in life. Parents should check-in with their kids to see how well they can differentiate between reality and life online, and routinely take a tech time-out to recharge mental batteries.

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