With the pandemic keeping so many kids at home and requiring them to attend school online, the use of computers and digital devices has gone through the roof.
For the better part of the last year, many children have been learning through a computer screen, and spending more time on screens recreationally, as well. Now, even with summertime upon us and Michigan beginning to return to normal, it may be tough for some children to break their screen time habits.
Experts say that getting the kids to put down the devices might come down to forming new habits as a family.
Digital wellness consultant Katey McPherson says getting children involved in activities, like summer camps or scheduling summertime chores, is a good way to start. Experts also recommend setting limits for screen time for your children, and involving them in those conversations.
McPherson says even if you ease up on some things during the summer months, it’s important to keep the rules for cellphones and tablets in place.
“No devices in the bedroom or bathroom, and sleep is essential,” McPherson said. “Even though it’s the summer and they get to stay up later to play video games, we’re still taking the devices and putting them on a central charging station.”
Officials say that parents and guardians should be aware of the example they are setting when around the kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that if adults cut back on screen time, kids are more likely to follow suit.
“I have to be really careful about dedicated and protected time,” McPherson said. “No phone at the dinner table, no phone after 9 p.m., and (I keep it) off my nightstand. You have to be a good role model.”
And try to keep in mind -- not all screen time is the same. Be aware of the content that the kids are consuming, and the connections that they are making when on their devices.
McPherson recommends that children over 12 years old spend less than two hours per day scrolling the internet or playing video games. For kids under 12, she recommends they spend no more than one hour on their devices.