WASECA, Minn. — Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and hybrid and distance learning models, many children are incorporating more screen time into their school day. That’s why it’s more important than ever to reduce the use of electronics the rest of the day.
Everett Kalcec, D.O., family medicine physician, Mayo Clinic Health System in Waseca, says while screens are a part of today’s culture, there are health benefits related to reducing screen time, including improved physical health and intellectual and emotional development.
“There’s no doubt that due to the pandemic children are spending a lot more time on computers and tablets, and it is important to balance this with non-screen activities that include being physically active,” says Dr. Kalcec. “After school or work each day, set up a routine to put away devices and spend time together as a family doing activities that keep you active and that you look forward to doing.”
The average time spent on screens is seven to 10 hours. Recommendations for an acceptable amount of
screen time include:
No screen time whatsoever for children under 2
One hour a day for children 2 to 12
Two hours a day for teens and adults
While more research is needed to fully understand the effects screen time levels have on kids, parents are not off the hook. Screen time affects adults the same as children. Overuse of screen time puts everyone at risk of obesity, is linked with sleep disturbances and can impact relationships. Additionally, for kids — especially teens — there are studies concerning the negative effects of screen
time as it relates to anxiety, depression and attention span.
These tips can help you trim your children’s screen time when not in school:
Be accountable. Set expectations with your kids and set goals to be intentional about reducing screen time.
Be realistic. If your kids are spending a lot of leisure time on screens, including watching television, start by setting smaller, more attainable goals. Instead of jumping right to the recommended one to two hours or less a day, start by cutting their current screen time in half.
Be engaged. After school or work, spend time each day talking face-to-face with kids and give them your full attention.
Put hand-held devices away. During screen-free hours, put devices away or at a charging station in a common area so they’re not attracting your kids’ attention.
Create phone-free zones in the home. Making family meal areas a phone-free zone is an easy way to start.
Go outside. Putting the phone down and taking a walk or playing outdoors increases your endorphins and provides that feeling of happiness in your brain, boosting your mood and improving your physical health.