Average screentime among children of various age group
- Kids under age 6 watch an average of about 2 hours of screen media a day, primarily TV and videos or DVDs.
- Kids and teens 8 to 18 years spend nearly 4 hours a day in front of a TV screen and almost 2 additional hours on the computer (outside of schoolwork) and playing video games.
- Kids of age 8 to 18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes to using entertainment media across a typical day.
And the effects of television, or any technology addiction, on children are not good.
The risk involved with too much screentime:
- Carry a much higher risk of childhood obesity.
- Are more likely to display aggressive behavior. Children naturally copy what they see. (For a simple, chilling experiment, allow your son to watch professional wrestling and see how long it takes before he tackles his sister).
- Are more likely to engage in “risky behaviors” when they get older.
- Have less energy.
- Have a harder time in school.
- Are more-exposed to commercials, advertisements, and propaganda.
Most people would agree that our culture watches too much. Yet, few people are able to curb their habits and reclaim their life. And even fewer know how to help their children navigate the media-drenched world we live in.
Here are 12 tips to help limit screen time for your kids. Each of these is tried-and-true methods used in our home and others.
- Set the Example. Sorry to start with the toughest one, but there is nowhere else to start. Children will always gravitate toward the modeled behaviors of their parents. If they see you reading a book, they are more likely to read. And if they see you watching television, so will they.
- Be the Parent. It is your job to encourage healthy behaviors and limit unhealthy ones – sometimes this means making unpopular decisions like limiting your children’s screen time. Make these tough decisions for your children. And always go the next step of explaining why you have made the decision – this will help them follow through and someday choose it for themselves.
- Set Limited Viewing Times. If you are not going to turn off the television completely, choose the appropriate television viewing windows for your kids. It is much easier to limit their viewing habit if they understand that they can only watch one show in the morning and one show after school (as just an example).
- Encourage Other Activities. And provide the necessary resources (books to read, board games, art supplies, and/or sporting equipment).
- Play with Your Kids. Get down on the floor with your kids and pick up a doll, truck, or ball. It takes intentionality and selfless love when they are 6 But when they turn 13, you’ll be glad you did.
Limiting your child’s screen time may seem like an impossible chore or it may seem like a battle that is too difficult to fight. But it is worth fighting.
Implementing just a few steps right away will help you implement the others. Television viewing is a momentum-gathering behavior. The more you do it, the more compelled you are to continue (advertisements have that effect on viewers).
But the opposite is also true. The more you turn it off, the easier it becomes to keep off and limit the screen time for kids.