Updated August 2020
[This article was written with Dr. Lindsay Henderson, Assistant Director of Psychological Services for Amwell]
Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives. It is no surprise that today’s children have become avid users as well. Each year, children are getting their first phones at younger and younger ages. According to TechCrunch, the average age for a child getting their first smartphone is now 10.3 years. Technology has many benefits, but too much technology can lead to a range of behavioral and developmental problems.
As assistant director of Psychological Services Dr. Lindsay Henderson is online a lot – but she also makes an effort to take time away from screens. As a behavioral health professional and mom, she shares the inside scoop on why having regular, screen-free time is so important for children.
The Art of Conversation
Technology can often be an obstacle in relationships. Nowadays, communicating through technologies is a very prevalent way to stay in touch. There is an art to conversation, and spending too much time in front of a screen can leave children without the tools they need to connect effectively in person. It is vital to have screen free time where human interaction and maintaining relationships are a focal point.
Focusing on a single task
By spending time without technology, it teaches a habit of concentrating in full on a single task rather than multitasking. This is extremely important to help with a child’s work ethic and focus levels. “My advice for parents is to implement a no screen time rule before bed, in bedrooms overnight and in the mornings. Help your mind prepare for a day of active engagement and focused attention by quietly shutting down for a night of high quality sleep.”
Lead by example
It is important for parents to lead by example in this situation; put away your devices away sometimes and protect your hard won tech-free time.
Bright screens before bed can impair sleep
There have been recent studies demonstrating how staring at bright screens on devices just before bedtime can impair sleep. For people of all ages, it is vital to get a good night’s sleep. But during the stages of early development it is critical to sleep well. Technology before bedtime can lead to erratic sleeping patterns and a host of other behavioral issues that can result when kids don’t sleep well.
Schedule "No Screen" time on a routine
Children do best when they know what to expect. Many children find surprises or variations in routines difficult to manage. Choose a few times when everyone in the family will consistently be off their screens and stick to it.
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