Typically, kids spend more than 7.5 hours a day with media — TV, iPods, and the Web — plus another two (2) hours on their mobile phones, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation in the US. Though researchers can’t definitely blame screen hours, heavy media users reported lower grades and happiness levels. Media is not something to be afraid of or avoid, but just like eating chocolate cake, it’s not something you want your child to be doing constantly. To dial back screentime:
• Set clear limits.
The Kaiser study found that setting media rules lowered kids’ consumption by nearly three (3) hours. Set guidelines on TV watching, web browsing, and texting. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one (1) to two (2) hours of media time per day.
• Limit private viewing.
Kids who have TVs and computers in their rooms log more time than those who don’t — disrupting homework and sleep, and allowing access to iffy content. Keep these screens in the den instead.
• Park your cell phones.
Set up a cell-charging station for the whole family, and dock all phones before dinner so conversation won’t be interrupted. Keep them moored there at night to nix kids’ late-night texting.