How to Help Parents Battle Too Much Screen Time
As a speech-language pathologist, you know all too well about the dangers of too much screen time in children. Children who spend an excessive amount of time in front of tablets, computers, smartphones, or other technology are at a greater risk of regressing from the progress they’ve made during the school year.
It’s unfortunate how often mobile and tech devices are used as a replacement for daily conversation, reading, and social interaction. In a 2015 Parent Poll, ASHA discovered that children age 0-8 have access to and regularly use up to three tech devices at home. Parents often worry about the number of hours their children are spending in front of tech devices. Some parents have reported that their children are spending up to six hours engrossed in tech devices.
Your role as an SLP can help parents become more aware of some of the problems and risks for children who engage in from too much screen time. Here are the top three things parents are concerned about:
- Delayed language skills.
- Aggression and aggressive behavior towards others.
- Inability to socialize or struggle with social communication.
You are the frontline in providing parents with simple strategies to help combat the amount of time children spend on tech devices.
Good and Bad Screen Time
There can be a healthy balance between good and bad screen time. Too much screen time reduces the amount of talk and socialization that goes on between a parent and child as well as with other family and friends. AAC devices should not be included in reducing the amount of time children spend using tech devices.
We want to steer away from the bad and focus on healthier screen time with some simple guidelines parents can begin today.
Create dedicated screen time – Parents should feel empowered to give their children dedicated screen time without feeling as though they are taking something their children enjoy away from them. Encourage them to set up a time of day when screen time is permitted. Parents may also want to award children with opportunities to earn additional screen time. Parents should share in the child’s screen time by interacting with them. Playing games on tablets or other tech devices achieves both the need for social interaction and a child’s desire for screen time.
Set tech time limits for everyone – We are all guilty of being on our own tech devices far more than we should be. Therapists should remind parents that they are the model their children will follow. Inspire parents to be a good role model for their children and adhere to the dedicated screen time they’ve created for their children. Help them create a list of activities for their children to reframe the “boredom” children may feel while they adjust to their new limits.
Create a Screen-Free Zone – Perhaps parents want more engaged family meals or outdoor play. These are perfect places to enforce a “no tech” policy. Even bedrooms can be isolating and may lead children to withdraw or retreat from family. Support parents by reminding them that dedicated screen time can and should be held under their supervision.
Socialization with family and friends is still preferred over time spent engrossed in tech devices. Your families rely on you to help them navigate and create new health paths that encourage interaction and opportunities to communicate.
What are some of the creative ways you’ve helped families reduce screen time? Share with us in the comments section below.