Screen Time! The topic that divides parents everywhere. How much screen time should we give? What age is too soon? Are there developmental implications to giving too much screen time? The list of questions goes on and on.
Like many parents I’ve been guilty of allowing my child too much screen time. When I was pregnant with my second child screen time was my saving grace at times. Sometimes, allowing my then two year old son time in front of a phone or television was the only way I could get a chance to catch my breath. Fast forward a year to present day with two rambunctious toddlers, I’ll still have my days where I know that I’ve overdone it with screen time. But knowing the negative effects that too much screen time can have on the development of my children, I’ve been actively looking for ways to cut back.
How Does Too Much Screen Time Affect Our Children?
In an article written by Kids Health LLC the negative effects that excessive screen time has on our children is highlighted. One of the big effects that excessive screen has on our children is that it negatively impacts their sleep. A big reason for this is how stimulating it can be for the brain to watch the shows and play the games that children typically play on their devices. Too much screen time, especially right before bed, does not give the brain that wind down period that allows for restful sleep.
Excessive screen time also negatively impacts how our children’s cognitive development as well. According to HealthMatters.org “Excessive screen time may inhibit a child’s ability to observe and experience the typical everyday activities they need to engage with in order to learn about the world.” Development happens rapidly up until the age of 3 and children real world interactions to properly develop both their cognitive and language abilities.
Ways To Limit Your Child’s Screen Time
Now that we know how excessive screen time impacts the sleep and development of our children here are a few ways that I’ve been trying to limit it in my household.
1) Set A Good Example By Limiting Tour Own Screen Time
One big thing that I’ve noticed in motherhood is that my children are always watching and emulating what I’m doing. So I’ve been very diligent in trying to set a good example with my screen and phone usage in the last few weeks. It’s just as important for me to unplug as it is for them. A bonus is that I’ve seen a positive impact in my mental health and sleep from limiting my screen time as well.
2) Schedule Times During The Day To Unplug
A good way to cut back on screen time is to schedule periods throughout the day where you limit your usage. For example, the kids and I both enjoy watching tv while we eat breakfast. After we eat it’s time to unplug. We all get ready for the day and figure out another activity to do. Whether that’s just playing in their room, reading or anything else. We make sure that we get that screen free time in right after breakfast not to expect a screen for a while.
3) Research Easy Arts and Crafts Projects To Do With Your Children Instead
One big thing that has helped me keep the kids entertained when limiting screen time has been trying out different arts and crafts projects. They love creating and expressing themselves in this way and Pinterest has an endless array of easy and affordable crafts to try.
4) Research Sensory Activities To Do With Your Children
Children learn so much from fully experiencing the world through their senses. Many times this can be limited if we aren’t intentionally introducing sensory activities into their routine in some way. Working at a children’s clinic I’d often take some of the sensory play ideas from work to use at home but again Pinterest has a ton of sensory play ideas. My favorite being the sensory bins. And if you need recommendations on incorporating other forms of sensory play and toys into your child’s routine I follow a great account on Instagram called Memoirs of an Exhausted Momma. Her reels and posts are always so educational and full of great ideas!
5) Get Active
The deeper I get into this motherhood thing the more I realize that one of my daily objectives is to wear my children out. I’ve unlocked a new level of motherhood because I’ve learned a way to do this while getting in a good workout myself. I’ve written about mommy and me workouts on YouTube in the past that me and the kids enjoy doing but sometimes I’ll let my oldest lead us in a workout. Not only is it adorable and hilarious to watch him come up with a routine from what he can recall but it’s also hilarious trying to keep up with his energy. My one year old daughter also gets a kick out of copying her “BaBa” as well.
6) Get Outdoors
This has been a bit more difficult for us lately because we are in the middle of winter where I am. But the weather has been starting to break and Spring is right around the corner! Nothing takes your mind away from your devices like spending time outside in beautiful weather. I love taking the kids for walks and to the park and I also find it to be a big mood booster for me as well.
7) Designate A Portion of Your Day To Learning Activities
A big part of our routine, that we admittedly fell out of, is spending a portion of our day going over flash cards and practicing our numbers and colors and letters. I was extremely diligent with this for my first and now that my daughter is one I want to get into doing it more regularly with her as well.