By Steve Crocker
Is your child’s digital screen time impacting their physical and mental wellbeing? Discover key insights and practical strategies to guide them towards a healthier relationship with screens.
In today’s interconnected world where screens have become an integral part of our daily lives, understanding the impact they have on our students and your children is crucial.
Here are just a few of the thoughts that will help inform you and support you as you grow or parent your child in this digital age in which we live.
Time Is Not The Only Factor
Keep in mind it isn’t just about time on a screen but about usage in that time. For example, 5 minutes on a harmful internet site (An R-rated game for example) can be more destructive than 2 hours playing a harmless game on a phone.
It is not so much the time that is the issue it is what they are doing in that time.
At school, we have very secure internet filtering but when they come home parents need to be aware of their own processes and protection around their child’s device.
Prolonged screen time often leads to a sedentary lifestyle, impacting your child’s physical wellbeing.
The Australian Health Department reports that only 1 in 5 children meet the recommended physical activity guidelines of at least 60 minutes per day.
Excessive screen time has been identified as a significant contributing factor to this decline in physical activity levels among teens.
The glow of screens can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to sleep deprivation and fatigue.
A study conducted by the Sleep Health Foundation in Australia revealed that 75% of teenagers have at least one electronic device in their bedroom, and this is associated with increased difficulties in falling asleep and decreased overall sleep duration.
Devices in bedrooms are not recommended at any time for young people. It is recommended to have a place to store their devices when not in use.
While screens provide avenues for communication and connection, excessive screen time can lead to decreased face-to-face social interactions.
A survey conducted by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) found that 65% of teenagers spend more time communicating with friends online than they do in person.
This shift in social dynamics can impact the development of essential social skills and emotional intelligence.
We see these online interactions having negative impacts on our students face to face relationships at school.
Constant exposure to social media, online games, and other digital content can contribute to stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem among teens.
The Australian Psychological Society’s “Stress and Wellbeing in Australia” survey highlights that 43% of teenagers report experiencing stress due to their online activities, including cyberbullying and the pressure to maintain a certain online image.
It is important that teenagers have significant time in their days where they are “disconnected” from their devices. (It’s good for the adults too!)
As parents and educators, we play a crucial role in guiding our children/students toward a healthy relationship with screens.
By setting clear boundaries, being role models, and fostering open communication, we can help them navigate the digital world responsibly and reap the benefits technology offers while minimising potential harm.