Screen Time for Kids: Finding Healthy Balance

Screen time for kids - little girl in glasses

September 11, 2020

What is the right amount of screen time for kids?

Even before we entered the uncertain times of the COVID-19 global pandemic, there were concerns around screen time for children. Global pandemic and physical distancing have had a tremendous effect on the community, work, family, and our daily routines. Technology has been infiltrating all aspects of our lives for decades, changing how we communicate, work, and learn. Now, we are using screens more than ever. We had to rely on technology to stay connected, distract ourselves from everyday stress, and simply keep functional. In this article, we are going to list a few simple things to consider when trying to establish a healthy relationship with technology and screens.

Use blue light blocking glasses

With the amount of time your kids spend in front of screens – whether playing games, watching their favourite shows or in their virtual classrooms, blue light blocking glasses are a must. They protect eyes from harmful blue light that can cause extreme eye strain, visual fatigue, eye dryness, and headaches. Sunlight is the main source of blue light and some blue light exposure is essential for good health. Research shows that it helps memory, improves mood, and boosts alertness. However, we are not supposed to be exposed to blue light after the sun goes down. With the use of technology we end up being exposed to artificial blue light after dark and that’s when it becomes problematic.

No screens during mealtime

Make it a new house rule to avoid screen time during meals. Use this time to connect with one another, check-in, have a conversation, teach, and learn. Each shared meal is an opportunity to strengthen family bonds.  It is essential to get accustomed to having mindful meals. This means eating your meals “distraction-free” – no phones, tablets, work, or homework during this time. If we are not fully aware of what and how we are eating, we are disrupting proper digestion and not getting the full nutritional benefit. So how do you make this transition? It is simple – juts sit at the table, notice how your food smells and tastes, and take your time. Eat slowly, enjoy every bite, and eat only until you are full. Learning to unplug and showdown during meals can dramatically affect overall health for the better.

Avoid screens at least 2 hours before bedtime

When the sun goes down, our bodies are supposed to start producing melatonin – the hormone responsible for making us less alert and eventually fall asleep. Before the invention of electronic devices and screens, the sun regulated our sleep schedules. Daytime exposure to blue light helps us maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. Today, with too many sources of artificial blue light, we start experiencing disruptions to our usual circadian rhythms resulting in insomnia and daytime fatigue. It is very beneficial to start dimming lights and avoiding screens and electronic devices at least a couple of hours before bedtime. Instead, choose healthy and relaxing activities like reading, arts and crafts, or going for a walk.

Choose educational, age-appropriate, and interactive programs and apps

With the number of programs, games, apps, and websites available today, it can be overwhelming to find and pick out the good stuff. However, taking the time to do some research is really worth it. Look for websites and apps that focus on developing curious minds and making learning fun. If your kids are going to be glued to that tablet for hours, you might as well have them learning something. Here is a great resource for fun and free educational websites for kids.
In conclusion, it’s important to remember that everything is good in moderation. Screens seem to be a necessary tool and distraction during this time, but it doesn’t mean that we have to be on our phones and computers all day long. It is ok to relax screen time rules now and then, but let’s focus on a healthy balance between using technology and engaging in healthy off-screen activities. Have a distraction-free family meal, go for a walk or bike ride, read books, and play board games!

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