With the growth of technology, young people have more options than ever to get in front of a screen. Kids and teens have access to many different types of technology, through phones, tablets, computers and television. Screen time safety is a way for parents and caregivers to be knowledgeable about what types of media their children are exposed to and checking in to be sure that media is appropriate for their age and maturity level.
The good and bad of technology
Technology can increase access to educational material, provide entertainment and relay news from around the world. But technology can also increase access to inappropriate content and language you do not want your child to be exposed to.
There are also medical risks associated with excessive screen time. One leading concern is the risk of obesity from being sedentary, sitting in front of a screen too long instead of being active. Artificial light exposure can also increase risks of headaches and poor sleep. Too much technology use has even shown to decrease the ability to focus and self-direct, and can also cause social isolation.
Setting guidelines with your child
To avoid the negative effects of technology, it may be necessary to establish some guidelines with children. These rules should also apply with aftercare or the babysitter. Examples of rules could include limiting technology to one or two hours or only after all homework is complete. When it comes to the internet, parents can establish an approved list of websites that are okay for the child to visit to protect them from inappropriate content.
Texting has also become a concern for many parents. For example, no texting at the dinner table might be a good rule to start with, since family meal time is very important. Another rule may be if you can talk to the person face-to-face, there’s no reason to be texting. For teenagers, it is especially important to discuss the dangerous risks of texting and driving.
By being knowledgeable about screen time safety, parents and caregivers can help keep their children healthy, active and safe.
Trina Blythe, MD, is a BJC Medical Group pediatrician at Way to Grow Pediatrics at Progress West Hospital. Dr. Blythe is consistently named by her peers to the “The Best Doctors” list. She is also an assistant professor of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine. To learn more, visit www.bjcstcharlescounty.org or schedule an appointment with Dr. Blythe at 636.344.2400.
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