Laura van den Engel
‘Screen time’ is not something that our parents worried about when we were children. Sure, they kept an eye on how much TV we watched, but TVs were just that – television. Cartoons, the news, or movies. Today however, tablets and smartphones have become so much more powerful in their reach. We can read books, work, manage emails and our calendars, check the weather, read the news, take and edit photos, do online shopping, look at social media. All through one device that your kids have in their back pocket.Maybe you yourself do not have a good grasp of computer technology and what your children might see online. With access to the internet, they can see pretty much anything. And studies have overwhelmingly shown that too much time on a smartphone or tablet, ‘screen time,’has detrimental effects to both kids and adults. Feeling overwhelmed as a parent? Rightly so. Here are some ways to manage screen time.

Parents, watch your own screen time. We didn’t grow up with parents who were constantly checking their phones but that is what kids today see. We don’t yet know how this will affect them psychologically. Children learn by example and parents are the biggest influence on their kids’ behaviour, especially when they are at a young age. As parents our screen time is often spent productively but all our children see is our heads buried in our phones – they do not necessarily know that we are working, or ordering groceries, or reading a bible app. I try to leave my phone on the kitchen bench during the day so that I am less likely to check it so often or spend long periods of time using it in front of my kids.