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I am a mom, and I am also aware of the technological advantages of having screen time now more than ever before. However, I do realize that there is a sharp difference between how I was raised growing up with less screen time compared to now. There is a vast difference! Therefore, I wanted to write this blog post on why I limit screen time for my kids.
This blog is not in any way critiquing your individual parenting habits and choice. It’s just an awareness that I came across on my journey through motherhood that I want to share with you and to identify if you also have noticed the same differences.
Have you also noticed any differences? Please feel free to also share your own ideas, or ask your questions or concerns below. I will be happy to help you!
“Reducing screen time allowed my kids to become more engaged with other areas of life. “
1. Change in behavior
I did realize a significant change in behavior when I decided to reduce screen time with my kids. The difference was that they were less aggressive in play and calmer.
I admit, they were fans of some YouTube videos which I thought were kids friendly, however, after a while, they started reacting similarly to what they observed in the videos.
Once I took that away and changed it to more age-appropriate videos that I made sure to screen before I allowed them to watch, I realized that they were less forceful in play.
I also realized that too much of one thing can also change certain behaviors in my children which I don’t want to allow because of necessity but rather, because of the need for a well-rounded environment for them to grow in.
2. Reduced creativity
This was definitely noticeable right away. The more they engaged with screen time, the less they showed interest in other activities, such as drawing, playing outdoors, and doing arts and crafts. At first, I didn’t think anything about it because my kids loved arts and outdoor activities.
It was once they started getting used to the screen time that I realized they didn’t even want to do those activities anymore.
What happen to the kids that wanted to be outdoors 24/7 if you allowed them to? Where were they? I know I had to change my approach to screen time and do it somewhat differently.
So I took screen time away and allowed them to go outdoors, even if it was in the backyard or back patio. They were not thrilled about it at first, however, they completely forgot about it after a couple of days and wanted to go outdoors more often to build forts. I said sure why not (even though I was smiling to myself).
3. Reduction in sleep
Have you ever tried putting your child to bed after they just watched the television and you’re struggling with them to fall asleep right away? One of the reasons is screen time access right before bedtime. It didn’t make sense at the time, however, I had to see for myself the difference based on observations.
It was a lot more difficult trying to get them to rest than on a non-tv before bed routine.
I did write a blog post on Fostering Healthy Sleeping Habits In Children, where I spoke about the importance of limiting screen time 1 to 2 hours before bedtime. Please check it out!
I do feel, however, that it is important to limit the activities right before bed with more calm activities such as reading a book, or a bedtime bath.
Here is some information that you can use to see whether or not your child is getting the recommended amount of sleep for their age group.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the recommended full duration of sleep for kids based on their age range is as follows:
- Newborn (0–3 months): 14–17 hours
- Infant (4–12 months): 12–16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
- Toddler (1–2 years): 11–14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
- Preschool (3–5 years): 10–13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
- School Age (6–12 years): 9–12 hours per 24 hours
I know these numbers are a bit tricky, especially with the younger kids, however, I do believe that getting your kids into a routine on a nightly basis will help them to get the required sleep that they need.
Don’t forget to refer back to my blog post on Fostering Healthy Sleeping Habits In Children, for more information on how to get your kids to develop good sleeping habits.
4. More nighttime Awakenings
I use to struggle with a lot of nighttime wakings in both my kids until I realized also that they were complaining about having nightmares and not wanting to sleep alone in the room. As a parent, my bed is already packed as it is, and with two more fighting with my space, I was not having it. So I was determined to find out what the issue was and resolve it right away.
I would ask my children what they dreamt about, only to realize it was some of the characters in cartoons or shows that they had watched previously. Hmm, that may be why…
Screen time can cause kids to be even more adventurous in their sleep if they engage in screen time right before bed.
So I switched screen time access before bedtime a bit (I recommended 1 to 2 hours before sleep) and realized that the nighttime awakenings had drastically reduced.
Try it! See for yourself the difference. Remember “Rome wasn’t built in one day”, so expect a bit of resistance, but try to be consistent for a while until things change, and become more routine.
5. More morning awakenings
Do you have that one kid who no matter what time they get to bed at night is always still the first one up in the morning looking in your face and asking for cereal? Yes, that’s my worst nightmare to be honest, because I sometimes just want one day to rest and that one day is awakening to an early riser.
Well, screen time can also cause “early risers” in kids. Who would have thought that? However, kids that are exposed to a lot of screen time also want to get up early to get back into engaging in more screen time especially if it becomes addictive.
Therefore, the less addicted they become to screen time, the more they will rest fully in the nighttime until it’s appropriate for them to wake.
6. less engagement with family
The more exposure to screen time, the less likely your child will want to engage with family. It’s even obvious in adults like myself, so why would it be different for kids? We are always on the phone, computer, or television as adults, and let’s confess, we disengage from our families as well. It’s the same for the kids!
They want to watch the television more than wanting to do other family activities, such as playing games or going for evening walks.
Therefore, reducing screen time has enabled them to participate in more family-centered activities and fewer solo engagement activities. Try it and let me know what you have observed!
7. No control over what to watch
Sometimes we are able to monitor what our kids watch, and sometimes we can’t. No matter what we do to try to prevent them from watching just anything, we can’t do so 100% of the time.
Therefore, we have to be aware that the more screen time we expose our kids to the less control we will have over what they watch or engage with.
The best thing to do is to reduce the amount of screen time we offer to our kids, which will also reduce the programs that they may find to watch that are not age-appropriate.
If we start the process from a younger age, we will have more mature and responsible children at an older age, especially during the teenage years.
Overall, I know it’s hard at times to limit our kids’ interaction with screen time because let’s face it, we are busy as moms and we sometimes need either some time to ourselves or we have piles of chores or that Zoom meeting to get done. However, I am in no way perfect with this observation that I have made.
I do realize that the sacrifice that I make for them now will be beneficial in the long run, and that to me is the ultimate goal. So yes, I may have to steal some screen time here and there for them to do other activities that allow them to engage their other senses. However, it also takes time and we can do it as we get more comfortable in balancing our lives.
For more related blog posts, check out:
- Living Outdoors With Kids: Finding Balance In Everyday Life
- 10 Fun Screen-free Activities For A 3 To 5-year-old
Did you find the strategies listed in this article helpful? What were some of your favorite tips? How have they worked for you? Leave a comment below, I’d love to know what you think.
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