Smartphones, tablets, computers, video games and the TV can provide fun entertainment for kids. But sometimes the entertainment can turn into countless hours. Fortunately, parents can make a positive change in their family’s life, especially regarding the use of technology by reducing screen time. Kari Smith, Pregnancy Counseling, Adoption & Congregational Services, of Lutheran Family Service provides a few ways:
According to the National Institutes of Health, “kids who have TVs in their room tend to watch about 1.5 hours more TV a day than those that don’t.” Simply by moving the storage station of the Ipad or removing the TV from the bedroom, a better and longer night’s rest for your child can be guaranteed. Find a public spot in your home so everyone can see what they are watching during set hours. Screen time in the home should be a reward not a right. Additionally, software can be used to limit the amount of time a device is used.
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
It will be much easier for your child to give up some screen time if he or she sees that you’re also sticking to this plan. Create a schedule for the family when no one in the house is on electronics. Your goal as a parent is to raise hardworking, productive citizens who love Jesus. Be the best example for your child that you can.
Spend time outdoors, go to the library, or have a game night. Focus on each other and making memories! Although it may not be an easy task, don’t give up! Whatever you do, remember you are looking to redevelop and create better habits. This is not an easy task. You need to have the insight, a plan, and give it time.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17
As a parent, you will need to be proactive about knowing the apps which your kids play. The best way to understand an app and any potential dangers it may pose would be to download it on your phone and play with it first. Also, use caution when allowing the use of YouTube. While many of the videos kids watch are harmless and sometimes even educational, not all of them are. Oftentimes the concern comes with the ads or the “suggested videos” on the side of the screen. Additionally, watch your child’s behaviors. If he or she has become a victim of cyberbullying, there will be behavior changes. Be involved and have authentic conversations with your child so they feel safe to come to you, even if he or she was on a website or app that isn’t allowed.
The National Institutes of Health recommends tracking screen time for a week. This will give you an accurate snapshot of how much time your child spends with a screen on a weekly basis. You can download a handy chart, by clicking HERE.
Lutheran Family Service offers congregational presentations on navigating the internet and social media with kids. If you would like more information on how to bring a presentation to your church, contact Rev. Mick Wolfram at email@example.com.
Brittany Skinner, Ministry Support Assistant for Lutheran Family Service