Parents rarely know the safe amount of phone time, even though their kids constantly use technology. Technology can improve their learning skills, academic performance, and development. But excessive tech usage and low content quality negatively affect our kids’ physical and mental health.
Overusage of technological devices can have many negative effects on children, such as sleeping disorders, exposure to cyber bullies, low communication skills, inappropriate content, and other common dangers.
So, having all of this in mind we may ask ourselves what’s the safe amount of phone time for kids. Let’s find out.
Recommended Daily Hours for Phone Use for Kids
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended daily hours for phone use for kids are:
- Kids younger than 18 to 24 months are not allowed to use screens;
- Kids from ages 2 to 5 are allowed one hour a day of high-quality content;
- Kids aged 6 to 17 are allowed two hours a day;
Factors that influence the recommended kids’ daily hours are:
- The effect of tech usage on physical health;
- The effect of tech usage on mental health;
- The maturity of kids;
Moreover, the age of kids affects their phone use. Younger kids tend to be more addicted to phones because they see them as toys and throw tantrums if you take them away.
The Negative Effects of Excessive Phone Use on Kids
Kids often don’t bother about the negative effects of excessive phone use. So, in the following paragraphs, we’ll go over have phone usage negatively affects kids.
Physical Effects on Kids’ Health
The constant sedentary position negatively affects kids’ physical activities, lowers their immune system, and increases risks for bone and muscle problems and obesity. We also mustn’t forget the effect screens have on children’s eyesight.
Cognitive Effects on Kids’ Development
Excessive smartphone usage affects kids’ mental health and lowers their cognitive, analytical, and problem-solving skills. Studies show that kids who use their phones a lot display lower cognitive performance.
Behavioral Effects on Kids’ Social and Emotional Well-Being
Kids that overuse their smartphones are isolated and develop behavioral changes. They are usually distracted with no academic or social bonding interests.
They are overwhelmed with negative thoughts and emotions and develop low self-esteem, which leads to anxiety, stress, addiction, and depression.
The Importance of Monitoring Children’s Phone Use
Trusting your kids is not the right thing to do when the topic is their smartphone usage. Kids can throw themselves into big troubles while using their phones, and you might not even be aware of it. So stick your eyes on your kids’ smartphones and control their activities.
Try to advise your kids to develop healthy relationships with technology, limit their screen time, practice a safe amount of phone time, and avoid addiction.
I mean, what happened with the basic purpose of the phones, such as only making calls and sending messages?
So, monitoring kids’ smartphones to establish healthy tech relationships is the best strategy. You can try and install monitoring apps such as mSpy, Custodio, Screen Time, YouTube Kids, and others.
Balancing Screen Time with Other Activities
Parents can’t just take their kids’ smartphones radically. Instead, you should teach them how to balance screen time with other activities.
Here are some strategies for reducing kids’ smartphone usage and balancing it with other activities:
- Keep track of the time they spend on screens;
- Turn off distracting notifications;
- Set phone-free periods of the day (breakfast, lunch, dinner);
- Set family screen time rules;
- Engage in outdoor and physical activities;
Engaging kids in physical activities improve their physical health, brain development, and social skills, increases their immune system, and strengthens bones and muscles.
Lastly, encourage your kids to turn their smartphones off and embrace activities, such as reading books, studying, drawing, designing, and music. You can even turn your living room into a little atelier, and your walls into a perfect canvas.
Creating a Safe Environment for Phone Use
Even when you let your kids use their phones, you must make sure they have a safe experience.
The first thing you can do is set up parental controls and restrictions on your kids’ phones. Moreover, parents must set screen time limits (cue the Mission Impossible music).
Set strict boundaries and encourage your little ones to turn the phone off and engage in other activities.
Alternatives to Phone Use
Help your kids to find alternative forms of entertainment to reduce screen time. For example, you can introduce your kids to gardening. Planting seeds is a demanding process that requires patience and care.
Moreover, sports are essential for improving kids’ development. Playing an instrument also contributes to better hand-eye coordination and develops a love for classical music.
Cooking can be another relaxing and productive activity. And there are many other activities. You just need to know your kids’ interests and engage in fun things together.
How to Address Phone Addiction
Phone addiction can have a serious effect on kids’ mental health. That’s why you must keep an eye out for these signs of phone addiction:
- Your kids won’t leave their phones;
- They charge their phone all the time;
- They throw a tantrum if you take it away;
- They are constantly interested in buying the newest phone;
Even when you recognize these obvious signs of addiction, it might be tough to address them. Your kids might become mad or even throw rage fits if you tell them that they are addicted to their phones (that’s typical for addicts).
So, take things slowly and try to make your kids realize they’re addicted themselves. If you’re dealing with a teenager, you should be honest and display the facts regarding the risks of phone addiction. Lastly, you are the parent, so you should make your kids know that all you do is for their best.
Kids can spend hours and hours on technology every day. That’s why parents must raise awareness about the safe amount of phone time.
Excessive phone usage can lead to long-term mental and physical health problems. So, respect the recommendations by the AAP and raise healthy kids.
Parents and caregivers, do your best to create healthy phone habits in your kids. No one wants our future generation to become even bigger slaves to technology.
How can I reduce my child’s phone use time?
Set screen time limits and engage in outdoor and indoor family activities that won’t include phones.
How can phone use impact my child’s sleep?
Exposure to blue light negatively affects your child’s sleep quality and duration because it makes the brain think it’s still daytime.
What are the signs of phone addiction in children?
Your children won’t leave their phone alone, constantly charge it, and throw tantrums if you take it away.
Is 4 hours of screen time bad for kids?
Yes, it is. Kids can spend that time learning or bonding with family and friends.
ALSO READ: Why Online Education is Important for Kids