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Kids Are Spending Half Their Day on Devices – Here’s What Caregivers Can Do

Published: January 29, 2024

Are the devices we rely on for life in the modern world – our phones, tablets, laptops, and more – impacting children’s mental health? According to the Common Sense Census, teens spend an average of eight-and-a-half hours on screens per day, and kids ages eight to 12 spend five-and-a-half hours daily, excluding schoolwork. When the average person is awake only 16 hours a day, that screen time quickly adds up.

And technology is everywhere for children now – in 2022, 95 percent of teens had smartphones, compared to 23 percent in 2011. And 46 percent of today’s teens say they use the internet almost constantly, compared with 24 percent of teenagers who said the same in 2014 and 2015. All of this screen time – often alone in their room – can increase feelings of depression and anxiety. 

While some parents or caregivers might choose to do away entirely with technology, that is only attainable for some of us. If you’re interested in cutting back on technology use instead, you can do a few things, like setting boundaries on devices and doing a digital detox

Here are some other ways to balance out children’s screen time with other healthy activities: 

  • Regular exercise: Exercise has been proven to keep your brain healthy, improve your immune system, and protect mental health. Even as little as 30 minutes a day can make a difference, so going on a walk or bike ride as a family to participate in it together. 
  • Good sleep habits: Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night to function optimally, and children need even more than that – 10 to 12 hours. Establishing a solid bedtime routine not only helps their mental health and overall well-being but also cuts into the evening hours they would likely be spending on devices. 
  • Face-to-face communication: Kids are becoming less accustomed to regular face-to-face interactions, resulting in feelings of isolation, loneliness, and social anxiety. Having them regularly engage with others in person can improve social skills and confidence. 
  • Healthy diet: Food is fuel. No one can underestimate the connection between healthy eating and mental health. Balancing out fun treats with regular nutrient-rich meals gives children the energy they need to tackle their day and keep off feelings of irritability or restlessness that can come from a highly processed diet
  • Creative hobbies: What other activities does the child in your life enjoy besides being on a device? Ask them about it and see what they say – if they’ve had devices as a regular part of their day for a long time, they might not know. That’s okay. Give them opportunities to explore other interests and hobbies like reading, drawing, or cooking. 

If you have more questions about your child and their screen time, Change The Game Ohio can help. There are many resources available that can help you have conversations about screen usage, video games, youth gambling, and more.

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