Children's Health & Wellbeing

Worried About Screen Time For Kids? How to Help Your Child Put Down Their Phone

Published: 12th March 2024
Updated: 14th June 2024

Worried About Screen Time For Kids? How to Help Your Child Put Down Their Phone

In collaboration with Brad Marshall, a leading expert on healthy tech habits for kids and teens, author of ‘How to Say No to Your Phone: An Empowering Guide for Young People (10 Steps to Change)’, this blog tackles a growing concern for many parents: excessive screen time for kids.

Tech Takeover

Phone addiction? Internet gaming disorder? Screen addiction? Technology addiction? Call it what you will, it’s an issue a lot of children, teens and parents are facing.

We witness it every day.

Children staying up late gaming, adolescents gambling money online, and teens unable to attend school. It’s a prevalent sight, one we can’t ignore.

One question echoes frequently in Brad’s clinic, on his website, during school talks, in speeches, and across social media: “What are the warning signs?”

Tech Timeout! When to Address Your Child’s Screen Time

Parents, teachers (and surprisingly often, grandparents too) find themselves navigating the murky waters where gaming and technology threaten to overwhelm their homes or classrooms, yet they’re unsure where to turn. These challenges often stem from excessive screen time for kids, which impacts children’s behaviour.

I’ve compiled a list of common red flags I often encounter. It’s not exhaustive, but these are among the most prevalent indicators that gaming, screens, and technology are veering into problematic territory for teens and children.

  1. Withdrawal from team sports or outright refusal to participate could be a sign that a child is prioritizing screen time over physical activity.
  2. Avoidance of family gatherings
  3. Disengagement from old friend circles without forming new ones
  4. Older teens shunning weekend outings altogether
  5. Minimal face-to-face interaction with friends during school breaks
  6. Turning down invites from friends to socialize
  7. Sharp decline in academic performance
  8. Bedtime panic over unfinished tasks or assignments
  9. Consistent failure to complete homework or assessments on time
  10. Frequent absenteeism from school, escalating to outright refusal to attend
  11. Resistance to following household rules (though this can be typical teenage behaviour)
  12. Heightened verbal aggression or increased swearing at home
  13. Destructive behaviour, such as breaking household items
  14. Any form of physical aggression
  15. More frequent or prolonged emotional outbursts (although this alone may not indicate a screen addiction)
  16. Surreptitious efforts to stay up late or wake up early to go online
  17. Late-night gaming sessions or all-nighters
  18. Skipping sports or extracurricular activities to spend more time on screens
  19. Refusal to join family meals or shower due to screen time
  20. Reluctance to leave bed (though again, this can be typical teenage behaviour!)

These signs serve as guideposts, indicating when gaming and screen time may be crossing from recreation into obsession or addiction.

Get Smart On Phones

How long has it been since you peeked at your phone? We’re not judging! For a lot of us (even here at First News), they’re a part of everyday life. That said, for our health and happiness, it’s important to take a break from them now and then. The Government agrees, as it recently gave schools guidance to help them keep phones out of classrooms.

The average person picks up their phone 58 times per day, so How To Say No To Your Phone explains why we find our devices so hard to put down. It’s filled with fabulous tips and ideas to empower us to take back control, reduce our craving for distracting devices and find happiness away from our screens.

5 Ways To Limit Screen Time At Night:

  1. Turn notification pings off – Pop your phone on airplane mode!
  2. Listen, don’t watch – Try podcasts instead of videos.
  3. Take it outside – Charge your phone in a different room so it’s out of reach at bedtime.
  4. Use night mode – Blue light from screens can affect your sleep.
  5. Bring in back-up if it’s still tempting to look at your phone at night, ask somebody to look after it for you!

To read more helpful articles like this visit the Talking Points section of our website or sign up for First News at home and at school!

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