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How to Promote Healthy Screen Time for Students

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How to Promote Healthy Screen Time for Students

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Are kids being robbed of social skills because they have too much screen time? Instead of being “gloom and doom” as one of our experts says, we are going to give you a lot of positive tips instead to make sure that your kids are growing up safe and smart so that then they are social in person in addition to online.

We talked to several experts about how screen time tips for kids:

Diana is a retired army officer and a highly decorated combat veteran who decided to take her years of leadership skills and work to enhance the confidence and abilities of elementary school girls. Her goal is to teach young girls to lean in early so they can grow to be their best versions of themselves with Girl Smarts. Jill is the author of an awesome book called "The Fab Mom's Guide" and she teaches new expectant mothers some really incredible stuff. You can learn more about her at TheFabMom.com. Jill is also a regular contributor on CBS Los Angeles.

How do you set guidelines with your kids around devices and device management when out in the world?

Set boundaries from the get-go when it comes to introducing kids to the digital world. –Diana Flett

I think we have to be smart about setting boundaries for anything when it comes to our students. I do not allow my students to take their phones to the table and they know that in certain situations if I give them the "mommy look" then it's time to put the phone away. We also do not want "ding" distractions so we have our kids put their phones on silent mode. We do and have set boundaries from the get-go when it comes to introducing our kids to the digital world. –Diana Flett, Girl Smarts

My daughters are six and five and ever since they were infants I would take them on these long road trips to Grandma and Grandpa's house, which is a three-hour drive. A lot of my friends say "How do you go on road trips and your kids don't watch a movie in the backseat?" I have never given my kids screens at restaurants, in the backseat, when we are standing in line at the grocery store or waiting in line for a ride at DisneyLand, whatever it is. I really make it a habit to not get into the consistent mode of giving them a screen so that they can occupy their brand. The more we condition our brain to have to be looking at something, the less creativity we have, the less social skills we have, the less ability we have to talk or interact or even stand and wait. –Jill Simonian, The Fab Mom

There are two kinds of people in this world: the creators and the consumers. We are often consuming and the people in life are really creating. –Josh Ochs, SmartSocial

Social media has nothing to do with "x, y, z." What do you mean by that?

So we can't anticipate that kids are going to learn social skills from social media because it is a really screen-oriented relationship and one of the first workshops we do in GirlSmart is Face-to-Face. We teach the kids how to have conversations, how to maintain eye contact when that may be uncomfortable, how to do something as simple as a good handshake. While we might know how to do that, we have to teach our kids have to do it. And I think so many times about how when Uncle Tom comes to visit and you say, "Jimmy go give him a good handshake and Suzy go give him a hug." Well, I think Suzy needs to give him a handshake too. Those interpersonal skills such as how to be a good listener are not taught and we have to teach them to our students in order for them to become proficient at it. It's a skill. It's not something that you are born with. –Diana Flett, Girl Smarts

There is also a lot of value in telling our kids why we need to create limits so they understand why it matters from a health and brain perspective. –Jill Simonian, The Fab Mom

How can parents monitor their child and keep them safe?

A lot of parents will say, "Well, I don't have the opportunity to look at my kid's phone because I don't know their passcode." We always remind them, "If you bought your kid a car do you have the opportunity and the right to keep the keys or look in the trunk if at any time you think that student is using that car in an illegal or inappropriate way?" Absolutely! The phone is a vehicle. They can hurt others and themselves with these devices. –Josh Ochs, SmartSocial  

The phone is also a doorway into your house and it is a doorway that, unless you are able to lock it, you have absolutely no idea who is coming into your home. Now who of us would sleep with their door unlocked and just kind of hope that our kids are okay? Hope is not a course of action when you are talking about the ability of your students to be safe and sound. –Diana Flett, Girl Smarts

What should we do to encourage healthy screen time for students?

Ongoing conversations are so important. –Jill Simonian

I think that the contracts are great and ongoing conversations are so important. Dare I say, it's like the "sex talk." You have the talk and then you have to keep checking in and keep checking. For us, I think it starts with the parents setting the example. If my husband is on his phone at dinner time, I say something and I tell him to "Please put that away." It's important that we limit ourselves very, very much to air on the conservative side so that our kids see us not using the devices more than they see us using it. We have to teach them how to manage it. I use the term "It's not time for that right now" with my girls. –Jill Simonian, The Fab Mom

We sat down with Dr. Mike Bishop, tech addiction expert, to talk about kids’ technology addiction. Learn what red flags indicate that your child has screen time issues, how to develop positive screen time habits, and the importance of having a dialog between you and your children once they have their own device.

Technology Addiction Key Takeaways

  • As parents, a major red flag to look out for is when your child starts passing up normal opportunities for socialization or outside play.
  • If a child's only interactions are through screen activities, they're missing out on a ton of social learning opportunities.
  • Not all screen time is equal. Kids are more engaged when they're using an iPad, tablet, phone, or playing a video game than when they’re just watching a television show.
  • Parents need to explain to their children the reasons why each screen time guideline is being set. If students don't understand why they should not use something, then they'll probably find a way to get around it.

How does Summerland Camps help children with technology addiction?

Summerland Camps has two locations; one in North Carolina and one in California. Whether it’s video games, overusing social media, or just basic internet browsing, Summerland Camps are for kids who have developed screen time behavior issues and need to learn how to find a healthy balance. We use a coaching approach. We get kids excited about their future and talking about goal-setting, which is a fantastic opportunity for kids who are having screen time problems.

What are some red flags that your child has screen time behavioral issues?

Short tempers that are aggravated by screen timeIf your kids are playing video games, you can sometimes see them getting frustrated at the game. Watch out for a quick temper and see if the game has taken control over their mood. Kids are not able to self-soothe when they're playing video games. This translates into the next point I have, which is problems going to sleep or waking up in the morning.

Having access to a device every nightIf we let our kids use devices without setting limits, without some rules and structure, they take their devices to bed with them and they're up at night browsing social media or playing games. Research shows that allowing your child to have a TV or device in their room unchecked at night results in less sleep and difficulty waking up in the morning.

Passing up face-to-face activities for screen time activitiesAnother major red flag is when you see your child passing up normal opportunities for socialization or outside play. There's a lot of social learning that goes on with neighborhood pickup games. If a child's only interactions are through screen activities, they're missing out on a ton of social learning opportunities.

What are some common misconceptions parents have when it comes to screen time?

Remember, your kids are more engaged when they're using an iPad, tablet, phone or playing a video game, than when they’re watching a television show. Research says kids with a TV in their room sleep less at night on average. They go to bed later and then they sleep later. The impact differs depending on which study you look at, but the overwhelming consensus in the scientific community is that having a screen in your child's room when they should be asleep impacts sleep across the board. Some parents believe that the television will lull the child into going to sleep. When you look at the big picture, the costs outweigh the benefits of having a TV in your child's room.

How can parents help their children develop positive screen time habits?

Children need limits when parents first introduce the device to them. How parents go about enforcing or explaining those limits is critical. Parents shouldn't approach it from the authoritarian standpoint. Instead, they have to explain to the child why each guideline is being set. Develop that intrinsic motivation in the child to understand what the limits and dangers are. Help them understand the effect of screen activity on their sleep, grades, and overall brain development.

Why is it important to have a dialog with children once they have their own device?

Unfortunately, kids lack the ability to predict the consequences of their behavior. They don't have the life experiences that we do as adults. Parents have to discuss the risks of social media and devices with their kids and help them understand. Explain to your student what can happen if they conduct themselves in a certain way, are in contact with certain people, or are looking at certain content.Parents can break these down into the three C's; inappropriate conduct, inappropriate contact, and inappropriate content. Explain the differences between each, why each one presents its own hazards, and what could happen.

What are “The Three C's”?

Conduct

The first one is conduct. Kids are not as anonymous as they think they are online. Sometimes kids start sharing memes or creating fake accounts on Instagram and think that no one will find out. Students don't understand there are serious consequences for this type of conduct. They can get in some real trouble and these kinds of things don't go away.

Inappropriate contacts

The second one is inappropriate contacts. This one's pretty straightforward for most kids. There are people out there with bad intentions, like an online bully in their school. Through trolling, they can make an identity of someone else and make fun of them. There are also real sexual predators out there online, looking for kids to victimize.

Inappropriate content

The third one is inappropriate content, such as online pornography and violent websites. Parents have to explain to their children the dangers of this type of content. Teach kids that they need to nourish their brain with healthy images, instead of spending their time looking at negative content online.

What advice do you have for parents of children who have their own device?

If parents take anything away from this conversation, it should be that they really need to explain to their kids the reason why there are limits. Whether it's with time, with who to contact, or the websites and apps children use. Parents have to explain why that is so that kids can comprehend and value these guidelines. If students don't understand why they should not use something, then they'll probably find a way to get around it.

Conclusion

Even though screen time can sometimes have a positive impact on students, it's important to keep an eye out for technology addiction red flags. Some red flags that can indicate your child is struggling with too much screen time are short tempers that are aggravated by screen time, passing up face-to-face activities for screen time activities, and having access to their devices at night.You can help your children develop positive screen time habits by setting limits, explaining why each guideline is being set, and discussing the negative impact excessive screen time can have on them. Help your children understand the consequences of having poor conduct on social media, connecting with strangers online, and viewing dangerous or inappropriate content. The most important thing to remember when working with your children is to explain the why. This helps them understand and value your guidelines.

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Quotation marks

This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

StarStarStarStarStar

Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

Quotation marks

Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

StarStarStarStarStar

Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

Quotation marks

This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

StarStarStarStarStar

Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

Learn more

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