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Do Screens Absorb Too Much of Your Family's Time?

By Sandy Schroeder

Electronic screens have become so much a part of our lives, it’s hard to imagine life without them. Work, shopping, socializing, entertainment, and homework all happen on screens. Sometimes screens also fill in for us, keeping kids busy, or quiet.

But the amount of time involved with screens has become disturbing to pediatricians and other researchers.

Kids, ages 8 to 18, spend seven hours a day on screens, according to the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Preschoolers spend 2 to 4 hours. Toddlers do two hours, and a third of babies spend an hour daily watching videos.

Too much screen time has been linked to poor grades, inadequate social skills, obesity, and weakness in problem solving.

Finding a Balance

We may need to find a balance between screen time, and other important parts of life, such as time outdoors, playing with other kids, reading, or just sitting and thinking. Here are some ideas.

Rethink the living room - Create some choices. Instead of making the TV the main focus, add a game and puzzle table, create conversation circles, and add comfy chairs with reading lights. Then make time to use those spots, to sit and talk with your kids, or enjoy a board game.

Bring conversation back to the table – When television is turned off and cell phones are set aside, dinner can be a great time to hear what everyone has to say. Kids may feel like they are really being heard. Everybody may linger around the table, enjoying the meal and the time together.

Delete bedroom TVs and phones – Researchers say laptops, phones and TVs interfere with sleep. The blue light and ongoing mental stimulation keep individuals up, instead of lulling them to sleep.

Avoid daily screen times – It can be too easy to switch on screens in the morning or after school. Time outside, or time for homework or household tasks, could replace the screen times.

Provide more choices – Take your kids shopping for paints, crayons, markers, or other crafts that intrigue them. Arm yourself with playing cards, small toys, or colored pencils and paper when you are moving around with your kids.

Reverse the indoor/outdoor flow – Making an effort to get kids out shooting hoops, kicking a soccer ball, or biking to the park can be a great way to break away from screens.

Family times are all different. What works for you is the real question. But finding a way to balance the rest of life with screen time is well worth considering.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.

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