What You Need to Know About Screen Addiction in Kids

little girl in bed staring at smartphone

Smartphones, video games, TVs, and computers are everywhere. Adults struggle with getting enough time away from their screens, but so too do children. It’s why so many parents, teachers, and physicians are fearful of screen addiction in kids. But what can you do if your child is addicted to screens? And how can you prevent it? Here we discuss everything you need to know about screen addiction in kids:

What is screen addiction?

A screen addiction is where an individual spends an excess amount of time in front of a screen or interacting with digital media. This could mean a phone, video games, computers, etc. They’ll often lose interest in other activities, and their digital addiction will impact their day-to-day lives.

However, while screen addiction is a problem, some people argue whether or not it’s a true “addiction.” The World Health Organization argues that humans can become addicted to screens, and they introduced the concept of a “gaming disorder” in 2018. Yet, other researchers have argued that the term “addiction” is too loaded and should not be applied in the same way as it is with drug or alcohol addictions.

Signs of a screen addiction in kids

Screen addiction (whether or not it’s an actual addiction) can become a serious problem in kids. It is linked to a lack of sleep, poor social skills, and speech delays. But how do you know if your child is suffering from screen addiction? Here are some of the tell-tale signs:

  • Your child has trouble controlling their screen use
  • They’ve lost interest in other activities
  • They always have a screen in front of them, even while socializing
  • Your child becomes angry or frustrated when they’re away from their digital devices
  • They consistently sneak a digital device into their bed at night

How to set limits on screens

The best way to prevent and treat screen addiction is to impose limits. However, if done incorrectly, you could just be making the problem even worse. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Set a screen time limit

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children older than six should have no more than 2 hours of screen time per day. These 2 hours are focused on entertainment purposes only. In other words, the 2-hour limit does not apply to the time your child spends on the computer doing homework.

Have uninterrupted family time

Children model their parents’ behavior. When they see us constantly staring at our phones, they will do the same as well. To help exhibit a positive example, schedule some uninterrupted family time. Put all of your digital devices in a box and spend some quality time together. This could be something as simple as a family dinner or a family get-together on the weekend.

Encourage outdoor activities

Getting your kids outside and moving won’t just get them away from their screens; it will also improve their overall health. However, you’ll want to choose an activity you know your child will enjoy. Let them experiment with a few activities and see which one they’re drawn towards. Even a simple walk in a nearby park can do wonders.

Don’t quit cold turkey

If your child is spending too much time in front of a screen, the answer is not to get them away from it completely. Phones, computers, and video games are all fun to play with and are key for socializing with our peers. Not to mention that getting rid of screen time all together can cause resentment in your child. You want to reduce their screen time, not get rid of it completely.

Steadfast Academy encourages all kids to get away from their screens for a little while and experience the world around them. To learn more about us and our program, contact us today!