Healthy Habits for Electronic Use: Kids/ Teenagers

No doubt about it — TV, interactive video games, and the Internet can be excellent sources of education and entertainment for kids. But too much screen time can have unhealthy side effects. That’s why it’s wise to monitor and limit the time your child spends playing video games, watching TV, and on the computer and the Internet.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under age 2 have no screen time, and that kids older than 2 years of age watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming. It’s also a good idea to make sure kids have a wide variety of free-time activities like reading, playing with friends, and sports, which can all play a vital part in helping them to develop a healthy body and mind.

Television is a privilege that children need to earn. Encourage kids to do something other than watch T.V. and that television viewing is allowed only after chores and homework are completed. Keep televisions out of bedrooms and turn off television during meals. Set a family television schedule and watch television with your child. Make sure to check the television listings and program reviews.

In terms of video and interactive computer games, it is important to look at the ratings and preview the games. Monitoring how the games are affecting your kids is also important. If you see that the games are affecting your kids, sit down and discuss the game and how it is different than reality.

Internet safety is also paramount in this age of electronics. It is essential for parents to become computer literate. Keep the computer in a common area and teach your children about internet safety. Spend time online together, monitor kid’s use of chat rooms, and share an email account with younger children.

It can be easy to allow children to be entertained by televisions, computers, and electronics, especially when we as parents have so much to do and so little time to do it. Teaching healthy habits for electronic use is akin to teaching children moderation in life. As parents, we need to realize that we are not raising children; we are raising children that will one day become adults. And adults who have learned moderation in all aspects of life fare better than those who do things in excess. When in doubt when setting rules and boundaries for children, remember the age old adage, “All things in moderation”.

by, Cindy Thiers, Alpha Center Therapist-Mediator


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