In this day and age, it’s inevitable that children are spending more and more time in front of a screen. The side effects that follow can cause some serious damage to our children’s health, that’s why it’s important to learn how much screen time is appropriate for your 10 year old.
It’s suggested that children should not exceed a maximum of 2 hours per day in front of a screen. By exceeding this limit, you run the risk of your child developing numerous health concerns such as obesity, behavioural problems or emotional issues.
As a parent, it is our responsibility that we recognise the symptoms and effects prolonged screen use can have on our child’s development and willingly learn healthy alternatives for screen time usage.
What is a Sufficient Amount of Screen Time for a 10 Year Old?
Multiple surveys have concluded that on average, school-aged children between the ages 8-12 years use up to 6 hours of screen time per day. That’s triple the amount of the suggested screen time use of 2 hours per day!
Growing up I remember playing down the street with my neighbours, exploring the many ways I could turn a cardboard box into an aeroplane and counting how many yellow cars pass by my kitchen window. Nowadays it’s completely different how children find entertainment or deal with their boredom. They’re skipping interactive play entirely and jumping straight for our phones to play games, watch YouTube or talk to their relatives through messenger.
The excessive use of digital devices such as mobile phones, iPads, TV’s or laptops can cause a variety of long term issues for us as adults but especially for children, therefore, it’s so important we take control of how much screen time our children are using and monitor exactly what they’re using it for.
If you’re reading this while beginning to think to yourself that your 10 year old may be surpassing the suggested screen time limit, don’t worry! I have listed below a handful of techniques for you to try out on your child which will help to reduce their screen time usage immediately.
- Set up Parental Controls.
- Encourage outdoor activities.
- Monitor what they’re using/watching.
- Limit screen-time usage. (Examples such as only after chores, in the presence of adults and never before bed)
- Prompt creative play with parents.
- Be open and honest to avoid future resistance or pushback.
- Find healthier alternatives to using screen time.
- Make a record of their passwords.
- Set a good example. If your child constantly watches you on a laptop, mobile phone or in front of a TV.. chances are they’ll copy your habits. Be cautious about your own screen time usage and remain being a good example for them.
- Think about putting them in extracurricular activities.
- Remind them that screen time is a privilege.
Remember to remain mindful when putting these strategies into action. Change no matter big or small isn’t always easy (even as an adult) so try approaching these techniques with a calm and amicable manner to avoid frightening your child or making them feel like this is a punishment.
What are the Effects of Too Much Screen Time?
Along with the physical effects of excessive screen time, there can be emotional side effects too. Physical side effects can range from obesity, joint pain, eye fatigue, headaches, irritability and an extreme reduction in attention span. Emotional side effects can range from social development issues, anxiety, depression, lack of concentration, poor communication skills and a noticeable decline in the ability to interact with peers。
I recommend allowing your child to become aware of the dangers and effects prolonged screen time can have on their health. As a parent we strive to keep our children safe, healthy and away from harm, therefore, by having an open conversation with your child about this subject will allow a mutual understanding to be formed and they’ll remember that the measurements you’re taking is to protect them from these dangers.
What are the Benefits of Reducing Screen Time?
Not only will your child avoid developing the physical and emotional side effects that excessive screen time can have, studies have also found that reducing screen time can improve your child’s sleep patterns, decrease irritability/aggression and increase their interpersonal skills. Other benefits parents have reported were an increase in their child’s attention span, reduction in body mass index and a stronger connection/bond formed during family activities.
Another benefit of reducing your child’s screen time is no longer feeling like you’re constantly stressed or worried about over-usage and all of the dangers that come with it. It’s a satisfying feeling knowing that as a parent, you’re taking the necessary steps to protect them from those dangers and in return they will benefit from it in the future.
It’s important to keep in mind that you may not notice an immediate change with your child if you’ve recently decided to limit their screen use, however over a long period of time you will recognize the effects it has and will continue to have on their development and wellness.
Are there Alternatives to Screen Time?
Yes! Personally if it’s a fine day outside, I love to invite my child for a bike ride around our local bike track. Sometimes we play a game of golf together or head to our community markets. If it’s raining or cold out, we enjoy playing board games or cards together. Family activities and personal one on one time are the ultimate alternatives to screen time! If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, try getting creative and think about the many alternatives and different activities both yourself and your child can do together or as a family.
When was the last time you spent quality time together? Can you remember the last time you went outside and chased your child around with a water gun? When I run out of ideas or I’m feeling blank, I ask my 10 year old directly what he feels like doing (other than screen time) and I try my best to accommodate to his suggestions.
Also if you have a school-aged child who has a few friends, reach out and communicate with their parents about potentially hanging out at one another’s homes. This will obviously depend on both yours and the other parents schedules, but allowing your child the ability to have a sense of freedom outside of school will make them feel trusted and worthy and it can benefit towards their social development skills!
Are there any Positive Benefits Associated with Screen Time?
Definitely! And like anything, everything we do should be in moderation. Regardless of what it is, we should always ensure we are using things carefully and moderately avoiding over-indulgence or over-use.
These days there are numerous amounts of educational apps, TV shows and games that can teach school-aged children almost anything that we as parents may struggle to find the time to do ourselves. Reading apps, spelling games and interactive shows are some of the many different educational alternatives you can use to encourage their learning development.
Parents with younger children (1-4 years) can also benefit from educational screen time as it allows and encourages co-playing and co-viewing, which acts as an important skill for them to learn once they begin socialising or begin schooling. Screen time can also be beneficial not only for a child but as a parent, especially if you find yourself extremely tired after work, anxious or you just need a break.
Parenthood isn’t always easy and I would be lying if I said I’ve never popped on a TV show for my child in order for me to receive 10 minutes of peace and quiet. It’s completely normal to need quiet time and a break from the kids, but try to come up with another solution rather than jumping straight for their favourite TV show. If all else fails, then you know you’ve tried! A parents’ health and wellness is just as important as your child’s.
I believe screen time can act as a great resource to use in times of need but like I previously mentioned, only with moderation.
How Much Screen Time is Appropriate For Adults?
Truth is, it depends. Are you sleeping and eating well? Are you taking care of yourself? Set a personal limit for yourself and be mindful if you notice negative changes due to screen time.
How to Keep Your Child Safe Online?
Discuss with them the online dangers such as bullying, theft and the importance of privacy. Monitor and limit what social networks they use, record their passwords and use parental controls.
Tips to Lower my Personal Screen Time?
Try to leave your mobile phone outside of your bedroom. If you use your phone for an alarm, buy an alarm clock! Find alternatives for your screen time. If you’re still struggling, try a digital detox.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare