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Top tips to reduce screen time for kids and adults

March 10th, 2021 by
Category: Dr. Kodie Smith Health & Wellbeing

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On average, Australians spend more than one-third of each day staring at a device screen – approximately 9.4 hours a day or 143 days per year! To put this into perspective, the average person gets about 7.3 hours of sleep per night. We are spending MORE time on our devices than we are doing resting. How crazy is that?

Over the years, the evolution of devices, applications and technology has seen a significant rise in these statistics. However, because of our reliance on devices, I frequently get patients asking for tips on how to reduce screen time. Today, I am going to explain the health benefits of reduced screen time and provide my top recommendations for adults and children to reduce screen time.

Health implications of too much screen time

To start off, let’s look at some of the health implications that arise from too much screen time –

  • Poor posture
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Shoulder and neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Eye strain and dryness
  • Increased risk of obesity
  • Increased risk of chronic health conditions, including diabetes and heart disease
  • Delayed learning in children
  • Impaired social skills

Benefits of reducing screen time

There are many health benefits of reduced screen time, including –

  • Improved sleep
  • Increased concentration and focus
  • Reduced eye strain
  • Prevents headaches
  • Reduced anxiety and stress
  • Less mood instability in children
  • Increased productivity at school
  • Lower BMI

How to reduce screen time

So now that we know the health implications of too much screen time, as well as the benefits of less screen time, here are my top six tips to reduce screen time for adults and kids!

Top tips for reducing screen time for adults

overhead shot of women on phone with a coffee in hand

1. No phones at the table during meal times

This is a great rule to incorporate into any household. Make it a rule that no devices are allowed at the table during mealtimes for both parents and children. Take this time to reconnect with your family, see what everyone’s plans are or what they did for the day. If you are living by yourself, take this time to relax, breathe and enjoy the scenery, almost like a mini meditation session with your food.

2. Stop taking your phone to the toilet

Let’s be completely honest with each other – we are all guilty of this from time to time. Before technology, it was common to see people taking newspapers or magazines to the toilet to occupy time, but in today’s society it is estimated that 75% of people use their smartphone devices while sitting on the loo. However, the best way to reduce phone screen time is simple – when the fruits of nature start calling, leave your phone behind!

3. Dedicated screen off time

I have a LOT of people asking how to reduce screen time before bed. This tip is the perfect, easy solution. I recommend setting an alarm one hour before your usual bedtime that is labelled SCREENS OFF. When this alarm goes off each night, place your device on charge (ideally not in the bedroom) and do not look at it again until the next morning.  Activities to do during ‘screens off’ time include reading a book, playing board games, knitting/crocheting and painting/drawing.

Top tips for reducing screen time for children

child sitting and watching tv

4. Control their devices

It is no surprise that it is essential to have control over your child’s device and the apps they are using. I recommend having one device that is specifically for your child’s screen time. This way you can control what apps they have access to, and the children will know that screen time for them is using that specific device, rather than trying to con you into giving up your phone or other devices.

5. Establish tech free zones or times

Whether it is a certain time of day or a certain room in the house, setting boundaries for screen time is one of my top tips to reducing screen time for children. It will not only help children understand the expectations of those designated times or areas, but it also creates a schedule/routine that is easy to follow for both you and your children. 

6. Involve children in tech decisions

Encourage your child to have choices in the use of their screen time along with your input. By involving them in the decisions, they will be more likely to cooperate and follow with the rules and time limits. Offer choices like what to watch, when to use the screens or how to break up the screen time duration.

I want to encourage everyone to give these tips a go today. Start with one and eventually incorporate all these tips into your daily routines and households – you will start to notice a big difference in your overall screen time! If you have any further questions or concerns about screen time usage or the tips shared here today, contact us or your local trusted health professional. 

 

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