Children are spending more time in front of screens than ever before and it’s important for parents to understand the effect and consequences. Screen Time = the amount of time spent in front of a screen or electronic media. It includes any sedentary activity in front of a screen such as:
- Watching television
- Working on the computer
- Playing video games
- Using a tablet or smartphone
Screen Time is a Worldwide Concern
- Adolescents are the most connected generation and according to a UNICEF survey, children under the age of 18 represent 1 in 3 Internet users worldwide.
- Average hours a day a child spends on a device? 8! That’s 2.5 hours more than it was over a decade ago according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Children are learning how to use tech before they learn how to talk, walk, and tie their own shoes.
- 72% of teens and 48% of parents feel the need to respond immediately to texts, social media, messages, and other notifications.
- Half of the children aged 12-17 send or receive 60 or more text messages a day and an average of 34 texts a night after they get into bed.
How Can P.E.T. Help?
If you are a parent and are concerned with your child’s screen habits, here are some of the options offered in P.E.T.:
Modeling – Adults are affected by screen time as well, but they also have a better sense of self-control. Children learn by copying the behavior of the adults around them, so it’s important to be good role models. Example: Not having your phone out while you’re talking with your child or partner; maintain eye contact and use Basic and Active Listening skills.
Modifying the Environment – There are multiple ways you can modify the physical environment to prevent or minimize behavior that causes problems. Parents and children should seek mutual agreement before making physical changes. Example: The parents move TV out of view from the dining area; create separate room or area for TV, video games away from dining room or bedrooms.
Confrontive I-Messages – This is the message a parent sends to the child when the parent owns a problem (the child is doing or saying something unacceptable to the parent). It contains three parts: a non-blameful description of the specific behavior, the effects that the behavior is having on the parent, and the feeling the parent experiences due to the child’s behavior.
Example: “When I want to talk with you about our plans this weekend, I am really annoyed because you’re on your phone and not answering me or remembering what I just asked you.”
Method III Problem Solving – When people participate in making their rules, they are much more likely to follow them – this applies to children. A child is more motivated to follow the rules because they’re not handed down by the parent. Parent doesn’t need to enforce the rules. Child learns self-discipline and responsibility. Child is less resistant and rebellious. Solutions are more likely realistic in terms of both parent’s and child’s needs. Example: As a family you all sit down and talk about screen time during dinner and based on everyone’s needs, work out a solution that works for everyone.
Looking for a visual aid for this to share? Check out our Screen Time Infographic on our website.
11. Epstein LH, Roemmich JN, Robinson JL, Paluch RA, Winiewicz DD, Fuerch JH, and Robinson TN. (2008) A Randomized Trial of the Effect of Reducing Television Viewing and Computer Use on Body Mass
Index in Young Children. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 162(3):239-245
15. Screenagers: growing up in the digital age, Delaney Ruston (writer, director, producer), MyDoc Productions, 2016, 67 min., https://www.screenagersmovie.com/