EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Screen time is a popular term these days and parents sometimes struggle to determine how much is too much.
One of the most important things parents can do is to maintain an open line of communication with their children to keep tabs on what they do online.
In the meantime, Eyewitness News spoke to a psychologist who counsels families struggling with this issue and offered tips on how to unplug, and get your kids physically active.
In many households, gaming among kids is a popular activity.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids, ages 8-18, now spend an average of 7 1/2 hours in front of the screen each day, 4 1/2 of which are spent watching TV.
The Academy of Pediatrics recommends two hours of sedentary electronic pleasantry a day. Dr. David Palmiter, a psychologist from Clarks Summit, counsels many families struggling with video game usage and says kids who overuse screen time are not paying attention to other areas of their lives such as homework, physical activity, chores, or personal relationships.
“Usually, if you’re doing more than two hours you take hits in those other areas, another thing is kids who are struggling interpersonally in the real world deal with not by trying to understand it or get it fixed, the issues, but instead going into a virtual world where they can be seen as leaders and very successful,” said Dr. Palmiter.
Dr. Palmiter says like anything else, moderation is fine, but there has to be rules. For example: disregarding the herd mentality.
“All the other boys are doing it it must be ok that’s an unfortunate way of thinking about things,” Dr. Palmiter added.
Secondly, monitor your kid’s screen time and set a time limit.
Thirdly, install parental control apps, like ‘Aura’, or ‘Bark’ that can help families control the media in their homes. Finally, stick to TV Parental Guidelines such as TV-Y or TV-PG.
One way to veer kids away from video games is to plan outdoor activities. They don’t have to be expensive or extravagant, but Dr. Palmiter does recommend kids get their heart rates up.
Simply, download screen time vs. lean time from the CDC website. It shows how much screen time different aged kids use and tips for healthier activities.
“All mental health stands on a tripod with three legs: nutrition, physical activity, and sleep. I don’t care how well your mental health is, if one leg is off then it’s compromised,” Dr. Palmiter explained.
The World Health Organization formally recognized gaming addiction as a modern disease in 2018, designating gaming disorder as an official condition.
If you’ve made many attempts to curb your kid’s screen time with no success, and you suspect a serious problem, Dr. Palmiter suggests seeking professional help.