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How Much Time Is Okay For Kids to Be On Their Device?

The real question is, will there be any child looking back on their youth and wishing, “man, I wish I spent more time checking my social media!”

There has been research done that suggests children under 8 should spend no more than 1 hour each day using a device for recreation, while youth 8 – 18 would be okay with around 2 hours per day.

It all depends on the child and what the child is tending to do with the device. If holding a device is loaded with temptation, then more severe restrictions are likely in order.

If I knew my kid had trouble saying no to candy, I wouldn’t recommend spending 1 hour every day in a candy shop.

Both of my children (4 and 8 yrs old) spend around 1 hour of approved time, but I have to be around and approve the activity.

With respect to watching, I do my best to spend the time watching with my kids so that I can be involved in a conversation with them at a later time on what they saw.

I was more lenient a few years back, but was noticing some ill-effects in my children. Handing a young one a device can sometimes be the easy way out to get some peace and quiet (or get some un-interrupted work done). Once I noticed changes in my children (declaring boredom, whining, asking to watch frequently, losing focusing on lengthy tasks), I made an important adjustment and clamped down on their screen time.

Ask yourself, does it feel like my child has a healthy understanding of their usage with the device?

I have seen many youth get attached to games, computers, social media that they would rather sit there on the device than go outside and play.

I live in an area where the weather is amazing year round. I want my kid to grow up experiencing the warm sun on their face. The cool breeze in their hair. The dirt getting on their clothes. The laughter filling the playground. The exhaustion after playing so hard that they have no energy left at nighttime.

I want my child to have an imagination that laughs at the idea of boredom, to create heroic stories from their creative thoughts, to hold rocks and bugs in their hands rather than looking at them on the screen.

To Do: Discourage the desire to use devices by introducing activities that are more enjoyable. Help them to love the outdoors as much as we did when we were children.

Okay, this may not be a reality all the time. Devices can certainly have their place and time. They are so darn cool and there is massive world to discover just within the palm of your hand.

It is so important to remember though that our children’s brains are developing rapidly. They are learning and perfecting all that is presented to them each day. The more they do something, the more engrained it will become.

It is already tough enough for adults to limit the time they use their devices. Social media has some of the best minds in the world armed with expert influential tactics, enticing clicks, growing ad revenue, and often without a care for the long-term effects.

The owner of the gambling casino could not care less about the long term care of the people that walk in their doors. What they care about is ensuring that a certain amount of reward is given to entice lengthy visits and a desire to keep walking through that entry door.

I will admit, I spend a significant portion of my time learning about why humans do what we do, what drives us. The natural tendencies we have. I have studied behavioral marketing and am naturally curious about the topic.

Robert Cialdini wrote a lay person’s guide to influence identifying 6 key areas that will often drive the recipient to action:

  • Reciprocity
  • Scarcity
  • Authority
  • Consistency
  • Liking
  • Consensus

It is important to understand what you as a parent are competing with. Experts are not only well aware of what drives human behavior, but they are also working on platforms that further enhance their ability to use these influential drivers.

In the past, it might have been easier to dismiss what you saw on TV, but when you see the same message come across your social feed with a ton of likes and very specific to your tendencies, all of a sudden that same message may cause a different reaction.

Our young ones will have to be trained in ways to discern when influential factors are real or smudged.

To Do: Realize that as much as you enjoy what comes your way online, expect your young ones will have an even harder time with less experience and inability to say no when their pleasure centers are saying “we want more”.

It is no surprise that in the 2020 election, there are candidates speaking out on the need to take action to force companies from looting off of our young ones. The Internet is still by far free from government policy, but this is a completely separate topic to discuss…Is the answer legislation or education. I will look to discuss that further…

February 21, 2020

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