Today’s Post is a guest post from Dr. Denise Sellers, a child psychologist and childhood obesity expert from Baton Rouge. Enjoy!
Ah, technology! Where would we be without our computers and cell phones, video games and instant messaging? We would probably be playing outside or interacting with real people in real life! We can all agree that technology is great. It saves us time and is entertaining-but, it can also mean TROUBLE, especially for our children.
Most children love to play games, text, and watch television. Spending time doing these things can be OK, as long as it is done with limits. Too much “screen time” can lead to problems. The more “screen time” a child spends, the more likely he/she is to be overweight. More time spent playing video games or watching television is also related to learning problems and falling grades. Children are often exposed to more violence and sexual content, which can lead to fear, aggressive behavior, and acting out. When the child is engaged in screen time, less time is spent on physical activity- just playing outside- which we know helps build both a healthy body and mind.
So, what can we do as parents? The answer is- a lot! First, set rules. Limit the amount of time per day your child can spend on all “screens.” This includes television, computer, phone, and all video game systems. It is recommended that children spend NO MORE THAN TWO HOURS PER DAY on screen time. Monitor what your child is doing and who they are “talking” to on-line and on the phone. Require that they give you all passwords- and check at least once a week. Watch your child play- and watch to make sure he/she is not sneaking to play or turning off the screen when you walk into the room. Make sure your child understands he/she is NEVER allowed to give out personal information such as real name, age, school, or phone number. Help you child make up screen names that don’t include this information. Teach your child about cyber bullying, and what to do if someone says something mean or that makes him/her feel uncomfortable. Teach your child how to use technology the “right” way, so you can both enjoy the benefits!