In the past, screen time was limited to leisure as the family TV was the closest we got to advanced technology in our homes.
Today almost every student has a desktop or laptop computer, plus a tablet and smartphone. Parents are reluctant to limit screen time because that’s where kids are doing their homework. Even in their leisure time they are learning computer skills that they need to survive in the 21th Century. Have you ever asked your child to help you open a file or attach an image to a document? Even excessive gamers have gone on to have lucrative jobs in computer programming.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that kids who spend too much time on the computer are experiencing negative impacts such as reduced social skills and poor fitness levels.
With such a fine line between negative and positive impacts and the fact that your child relies on the computer to do homework, how do you know when to limit screen time?
Look for the symptoms: One way to determine if your child is spending too much time on the computer is to look for the evidence such as constant snacking in front of the screen and poor sleep patterns. However, you don’t want to wait for symptoms to appear before acting.
Limit social media use: The majority of leisure surfing by teens is on social media sites like Facebook or Snapchat. This is hard to monitor because, for many teens, it’s primarily done on smartphones. It’s also particularly concerning because teens (and many adults) tend to leave their pages open while they perform other tasks. Encourage your teen to limit sessions to 15 minutes at a time between study sessions or other activities. This is more than enough time to scroll a feed, post an update, and respond to direct messages. While they are studying make sure they turn the buzzer off on their phone so they aren’t constantly being distracted by messages.
Keep tabs on TV viewing: Don’t allow your child to have a TV in the bedroom. You might even want to limit your child to using a desktop computer in a family area to do homework.
Determine what’s homework and what’s browsing: It’s pretty easy to tell if your child is working on the computer or just browsing. For school, your student will be accessing documents such as PDFs, typing in word processors, reading online articles with lots of text and few pictures, or using your school’s online portal. Set a schedule for homework time, and then allow an hour or two of screen time after that.
Avoid information overload: Teach your child to be media savvy. While there is a lot of legitimate news and information on the Internet, many sites are using deceptive headlines and sensationalized material to convince people to click. Teach your child how to evaluate the credibility of a site and to avoid the useless information.
Make a plan: Tell your child to plan what shows he or she wants to watch each week and stick to the plan. The plan should include any shows streamed on the Internet. This will cut down on channel surfing and binge watching. Of course, you should do the same to set a healthy example.
Work with a tutor: Often kids will turn to social media and other distractions because they are frustrated with their homework. Working with a tutor can help kids identify what the underlying challenges are and assist them with developing stronger study skills. Once these issues are identified and conquered, your child will be more focused in front of the screen and less prone to mindless surfing.
Whether your child needs academic review, a challenge, or motivation, hire a credentialed teacher, a trained professional, to tutor your child. At My Credentialed Teacher, tutors available for hire must be actively employed as a classroom teacher to ensure they are up-to-date on all academic standards and methods of instruction. Private tutoring is available for students in grades K-12 ranging in core subjects, foreign language, AP and IB, SAT and ACT preparation, and college application or essay assistance. Teachers trained to work with students with special needs and learning challenges are also available to tutor.