School Holidays and Screen Time for Kids
Rebecca Sharkey, Psychologist, Cumberland Park SA
15 November 2017
Maintaining a healthy balance between the real world and the virtual world can be a real struggle in some households. In this modern, technology driven world it’s impossible for anyone to completely avoid smart phones, tablets and computers. Most kids and teenagers play games in a healthy way – they manage to socialise with friends, complete school work and enjoy life alongside their gaming hobby. However, many parents report difficulties restricting their child’s use of games – whether that’s online, on mobile devices, on the PC or a gaming console.
Some kids and teens find it difficult to stop gaming even when they experience negative consequences, and in some cases, children can continue to play compulsively even when they no longer enjoy it.
Research has shown that kids and adolescents with depression, anxiety and difficulties with social skills are more likely to struggle to manage their gaming use. As well as that, we know that young people who game too much show symptoms of depression and anxiety (particularly social anxiety). So, finding that balance is critical for our children’s mental health and wellbeing.
Are you struggling to manage your child’s use of technology?
Perhaps they are:
- Going without eating or sleeping (choosing to game instead)
- Feeling upset or anxious when not on a device
- Arguing when asked to come off their device
- Spending less time than should with family or friends
- Becoming violent or angry when restrictions are placed on their screen time
- Child seems depressed, anxious and has difficulties managing emotions or problems
- Unable to find things to do if they aren’t on screens (the “I’m bored” phenomenon)
“It is important to Increase your family’s awareness of the effect of too much screen time and gaming has on your child’s development. “
It is important to find the tools to allow you to confidently place restrictions on your child’s time playing on electronic devices.
Some tips to help manage overuse of devices in your home might include;
- Removing any computers or devices from the bedroom
- Parental supervision – try to monitor your child’s gaming use (especially online gaming)
- Have set gaming times throughout the week or weekend and stuck to them consistently
- Give your child a 5-minute warning before gaming time ends – to allow them to save the game and finish up without an argument (hopefully!)
- Spend time with your children when they are not gaming – remind them why the real world is so much better than the virtual one!
- Model appropriate use of devices – your child will be reluctant to listen to you placing restrictions on their device time if you spend large amounts of time on your mobile phone or tablet.
At ThinkWise Clinical Psychology, we are offering parents one off individual sessions with our child and adolescent device expert, Rebecca Sharkey. Rebecca has a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology and a keen interest in assisting families with issues such as limit setting with device usage.