Screens And Our Kids: How Much Is To Much?

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“How much screen time is appropriate for my kids?”

I hear that question often and my answer may surprise you. “I don’t know.”

I don’t know because I don’t know your family. I know how much screen time is healthy for my kids because I know their personalities, their commitments their behavior and attitude, the amount of sleep they get as well as face to face friendship time. To me the key is balance.

As each of us attempt to answer the question “How Much Screen Time Is To Much?” let’s think about the following three things so we can arrive at a balanced decision.

Here Are 3 Things To Think About

1. It’s A Different Culture

Our kids’ smart phone has everything that used to fill up our room and closet on a one stop shop device. Think about it. On their one phone they have their games, friends, community, typewriter, “rolodex” (aka address book), their record player, 8-track player and cassette player, their recorder and microphone, their radio, their movies and tv and remote. They have their camera and video camera, their to do list and calculator.

Think of all those things as we were growing up. Each item above was in it’s own box, place or location. Today, it’s all in one spot and as a result, kids spend more time one one device.

2. We Are Raising A Two Screen Generation

Think of television a few decades ago. There were only a few channels and often times no remote. If you were raised in the 70’s then you were probably the remote! Today we have over 900 channels on basic cable and those on live TV shows can interact with their audience through tweets, Facebook posts and #hashtags.

While our kids watch one screen (The TV) they are holding another screen (Their phone) so they can respond to screen one with screen two. Screens take up a large part of their life and they are thinking about relationships differently than we did growing up.

3. Power Down To Power Up

We do need to power down in order to power up. There is good evidence that to much screen time can fatigue our eyes, cost us sleep and make us cranky. I think pursuing a healthy balance is what we need to think about. The question then is how much screen time is to much screen time?

My suggestion is to make a list of the “other” things you would like your kids (And spouse) to participate in and then plan out your routine. Here is a small list to get you thinking…

1. Face to Face Time (No, not “Face Time.” Face to Face Time)
2. Play Time
3. Quiet Time
4. Exercise Time
5. Down Time

Screen’s are part of life and they should be part of a balanced life. Like anything, when the “object” starts to control you or you feel like you can’t live life fully until you get your "screen fix" then it becomes an addiction and has moved from something fun and useful to an unhealthy habit.

I believe our goal as parents is to set healthy limits and reinforce them in a healthy manner. Telling your child to get off their phone while you are playing words with friends or perusing Facebook may not be the best strategy…just text them. ; )

How much screen time do you think is healthy for your child(ren)?

Photo Credit: Image ID: 256915822 © Tatiana Bobkova