How Much Screen Time is Right for Your Gamer?
Whether it’s homework or the hot new app, more activities are involving a screen of some sort. Before the rise of iPads and computers, it seemed all we had to be concerned about was how close our kids were sitting to the TV. These days, the tech explosion could cause our heads to explode because screens seem to be within arm’s reach at all times!
Limiting screen exposure can be tricky; they don’t make a lotion for it like sunblock. A recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics states that on average, today’s kids spend seven hours with all types of media that involve screens and links this time to attention problems, school difficulties and sleeping disorders. We all agree that it’s important to limit screen time, but this can be tricky since guidelines can vary by age. Here are some rules that we try to follow:
Ages 3 to 8
Most experts on the subject will tell you that any screen time is too much for kids ages 2 and under. However, that’s not stopping toddlers and young children from experiencing technology. Media use by kids 18 months of age increased from 10 percent in 2011 to a whopping 40 percent by 2013, according to a report by Common Sense Media.
These habits will likely stick with kids for the rest of their lives, so it is suggested to build healthy screen time habits early on. Try:
- Setting school day rules, set a reasonable hours limit during the week
- Playing with your child, Wizard101 and Pirate101 offers a great family playing experience
Ages 8 to 13
Remember when homework consisted of writing on a piece of paper? Limiting screen time at home can be tough when kids have a project to complete, plus want to get in an hour or so of Wizard101. Some studies recommend around two hours a day for this age range, but it is discretionary to each child and family. Whatever limit you set with your kid, lessons about moderation and budgeting time wisely are key.
Learn to be flexible, but also set limits on when and where screen interaction is allowed. Keep digital devices out of the bedroom, and have a “no screens at the dinner table” rule. It is also important for parents to model healthy screen use, so you don’t end up with a “Do as I say, not as I do” situation.
Ages 13 to 18
Teenagers are an especially difficult group to police when it comes to screen time. There aren’t many teens without smartphones these days, and this can put a wrench in many of a parent’s best intentions.
When setting screen time for your teenager it’s important to remember that studies have shown that higher amounts of screen time contribute greatly to a lack of much-needed sleep. Additional negative consequences from too much time online among the high school set include cyberbullying, not getting homework done and failure to pay attention in class.
Make extra screen time beyond those three hours a reward for good grades, finishing homework and chores. Encouraging after-school activities and hobbies can help your teen be active and find balance.
Other Considerations for Parents
Most studies on screen time and its effect on children include the caveat that what your children are watching does matter. As parents, we should not only be aware of how much time our kids are spending with a screen, but what they are doing as well.
Know what your child is into and be conversant about it. Look for information pages for parents like Wizard 101’s “Family Game” page, which helps us understand the games our kids are playing. Parents are encouraged to set limits with input from their children. Give them feedback on the subject and they’ll be more accepting when it’s time to turn off the computer, tablet or phone.