Parenting Tips

How to Stop Screen Addiction in Kids: The Ultimate Parents Guide10 min read

We’re lucky we live in a world of technology. We can use our devices to have a conversation with a loved one abroad, find remote work, and stream loads of entertainment.

 

Sound nice, right?

 

At first, it does. But when our children start getting addicted to electronics, it becomes a red flag.

 

Is your child a digital addict?

 

Do you have a hard time asking them to put the iPad down or switch off the Television? 

 

In this blog post, we’ll discuss screen addiction in children and how to limit screen time for your kids.

 

Want to know how to stop or prevent your child from getting addicted to screens? 

 

But first, let’s start by breaking down what exactly screen addiction is and the telltale signs that your kiddo is addicted to screens.

 

Okay. Let’s dive in

What Is Screen Addiction?

Screen addiction is a type of behavioural addiction that refers to a compulsion to use electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers. It includes online gaming, social media, and other internet activities. 

 

Statistics to prove screen addiction in kids include:

  • A survey of over 1000 parents found that 49% believe their child is addicted to screens.
  • 58% of surveyed children aged 8 to 12 said they feel anxious or sad when they can’t be online.
  • Screen addiction is becoming more and more common in school-aged children. In a 2018 study, 68% of parents said they believe their child is addicted to screens.

7 Signs That Your Child Might Be Addicted To Screen

According to research by the University of Michigan, here are some signs to look out for:

  1. Your child demonstrates obsessive or compulsive behaviour around screens, such as carrying their device with them at all times or feeling anxious without it.
  2. Whenever your child is not using their smartphone or iPad, they feel irritable, sad, or angry.
  3. Your child has difficulty completing tasks or paying attention in school because of screens.
  4. Screen usage serves as a way for your kid to escape from problems or cope with negative emotions.
  5. Your child’s daily activities such as schoolwork, meals, and sleep have been adversely affected by their screen usage.
  6. Screen time causes negative emotions such as anxiety, aggression, or withdrawal.
  7. You find it hard to limit your child’s screen time.

What Makes Screens So Addictive Anyway?

Here are some scientific facts to help you out. 

 

  • Screens release a chemical called dopamine in the brain, which makes us feel happy. With dopamine release, screens become habit-forming, and we want to use them more and more.
  • Screen time also stimulates the brain’s reward pathways, making us feel good each time we use screens. This can create an addictive cycle where children need screen time to feel good.
  • The blue light emitted from screens confuses our brains and makes it difficult for us to fall asleep. This can lead to children using screens in bed, disrupting their sleep patterns.

6 Reasons Why Babies And Toddlers Should Not Watch TV Include:

  1. It can slow brain development

How so?

 

Too much screen time can inhibit a child’s ability to focus limit their ability to learn and explore. Children’s brains are rapidly developing, and it’s crucial that they get the proper stimulation during this time.

 

  1. It can lead to sleep problems.

Babies and toddlers need a lot of sleep! Screen time before bed can make it harder for them to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. It can also have adverse effects on sleep quality and duration in young children and adolescents.

 

  1. It can cause behavioural problems.

Children who watch too much TV are more likely to have behavioural problems such as hyperactivity or aggression.

 

  1. It can lead to obesity.

Screen time usually means less time for physical activity and healthy eating. This can lead to obesity in children and adolescents.

 

  1. It commercializes sex and violence at a young age.

TV commercials often target very young children and show them images of violence and sex. This can have a negative effect on how children view these things in real life.

 

  1. They might not learn how to communicate verbally.

If children constantly communicate through screens, they might not learn how to communicate verbally. This can lead to social problems later on in life.

So what's the bottom line?

Screen time is fine in moderation, but it’s essential to be aware of the dangers of screen addiction in children.

 

It’s best to keep screens out of the reach of babies and toddlers completely. Instead, give them age-appropriate toys and books to encourage learning and development.

 

For older kids and teens, it’s important to pay attention to the type of content they’re viewing.  

How to Effectively Limit Screen Time for Your Child: 6 Practical Tips to Get You Started

Now that you know all about screen addiction and its effects on our children, it’s time to take some action! 

How can we help our kids from becoming digital addicts?

The key to limiting screen time for your child is to start slowly and make manageable changes for both of you.

 

You don’t want to overwhelm your child or cause a massive conflict over screens. Your child will most likely have a meltdown the first day you start limiting their screen time, so start small and work your way up.

 

In some cases, children can become violent. Screen addiction in kids can be a huge problem. And sadly, it’s not only teens addicted to electronics, but toddlers as young as 2 years old are becoming addicted to screens.

 

If you notice any signs that your child might be addicted to screens, take action immediately. The sooner you start to limit their screen time, the better. 

How do you go about limiting screen time for your kids? Do you go cold-turkey or limit their screen time bit by bit?

To be honest, there is no perfect option on the best way to reduce screen time in your home. It all depends on the age of your child and their temperament.

 

If you decide to go cold turkey and altogether remove screens from your child’s life, it’s essential to be prepared for a battle. Your child will most likely be upset and might even throw a tantrum.

 

And if your child is strong-spirited, they might put up a resistance that makes you question yourself. The key here is to be persistent.

 

It’s wise to prep your kiddo first before you start limiting their usage. Be patient and explain to them why you’re doing this. It might take some time for them to adjust, but eventually, they’ll get used to it.

 

If you have an older child addicted to screens, limiting their screen time will take more effort (we all know how teens can be rebellious!). They might not be happy with you at first, but it’s important to stick to your limits.

The Top 6 Tips to Reduce Your Child's Screen Time

  1. Limit your screen time as well. Set a good example for your child by limiting your own screen time. If they see you using screens all the time, they’ll think it’s normal and be more likely to do the same.
  2. Create Screen-Free Zones in your home where screens are not allowed. This includes TVs, laptops, iPods, etc. You could have screen-free zones in the bedroom, dining room, or other shared space.
  3. Establish Screen-Time Limits for your child. This could be a certain number of hours per day or week that they are allowed to use screens.
  4. Make sure your child gets plenty of physical activity and outdoor time. This can help reduce screen time because children will have less free time to use screens.
  5. Encourage them to read books or play with other toys that don’t involve screens
  6. Get creative! There are lots of ways to have fun without screens. Try going on a family hike, playing tag, or making a homemade pizza together.

The most important thing is to be consistent with your limits and ensure your child knows why you’re setting these boundaries. 

Only allow quality shows during their screen time

Now that you’re on your way to getting your child detoxified from Screens, the type of shows they watch henceforth matters a lot.

 

Just because you’ve managed to cut back your child’s screen time from 4 hours per day to 1 hour doesn’t mean your work is done. Not even close. You have to find quality child-friendly shows that your child can watch during that time.

 

Wait a minute. 

Aren't all child-friendly shows appropriate for kids?

No, they’re not. Honestly speaking, some children’s cartoons and shows are trash. They don’t teach children anything valuable; instead, they rot their brains.

 

In 2017, Sarah Domoff, a Postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan Center for Human Growth and Development at the time, was the lead author of a study on the measures of screen addiction in children. Their research found out that how kids use devices is as important as or even more significant than the number of hours they spend on screens.

 

So, what point am I trying to drive home here?

 

As much as you intend to reduce screen exposure, the kind of content or media your child consumes during their time with the iPad or smartphone is super important. The shows your child watches can positively or negatively impact their emotions and overall behaviour.

 

And I bet you’re probably thinking, “So what’s the solution then? How do I find quality shows for my kids to watch? “

 

For starters, avoid overstimulating shows with excessively bright colours, loud background music and fast animation. These types of shows are known to cause attention problems in children. 

 

Secondly, make sure the show promotes positive values such as kindness, empathy, cooperation, etc. Look for shows that have a moral to the story and teach your child something valuable. 

 

Lastly, choose age-appropriate shows. Don’t put your two-year-old in front of a show meant for seven-year-olds. The content will be too mature for them, and they won’t understand it anyway.

Features of a quality show include:

  1. Slow-paced transitions from one scene to the next.
  2. Realistic movements and conversations. Avoid shows with characters talking in baby voices because no one talks like that in real life. 
  3. Minimal use of digital effects. No flashing lights or psychedelic colours.
  4. Natural, relatable backgrounds with muted tones. 
  5. Not villain based – most children’s shows these days are based on Power Rangers, Superheroes and other unrealistic concepts.
  6. Culturally diverse characters- Look for shows that have a variety of cultures and races represented. This helps children become more accepting of others.

The Best Parents Guide to Help Detox Your Child from Screen Time

Screen addiction is a real problem for children in our digital world.

 

But by setting a good example for your kids, establishing Screen-Free Zones, and limiting Screen-Time, you can help them detoxify from screens and enjoy a healthy childhood.

 

Remember, it’s not about deprivation. It’s about balance and quality. 

 

Screen time should be limited and used for quality shows that promote positive values. Ensure your child gets plenty of physical activity, outdoor time, and human interaction. This will help them to lead a well-rounded childhood.

 

Do you have any tips to add? Let me know in the comment section below.

 

And if you’re looking for more refreshing blog posts on navigating motherhood, relationship issues after giving birth, or relatable first-time mum advice, head over to the blog and spoil yourself. 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

If you’d love to get in touch with me, send me an email at hello@wanjirumwangi.com

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