Screen time gets a lot of face time in the news and parents are getting it times two, because A. how much time are we spending on our dang phones, and B. how much time are our kids spending in front of our phones, their phones, laptops and tablets too?

Are we raising a generation of kids who don’t know how to talk to each other without the buffer of a screen in front of their faces?

The numerous studies on this subject don’t lie – there’s definitely cause for concern.

Excessive screen time has been linked to an entire rap sheet of negatives beyond the obvious decline in basic social skills. There’s always the issue of sleep disruption when we talk about screen time, which is a heavy concern for growing kids and their growing brains.

Consider the following:

“Previous studies have shown that media use, particularly electronic media use in the evening, is associated with poor sleep in adolescents and adults. This study shows that such relationships can be observed much earlier in life – even in the first 3-4 years,” said Dr. Daniel Buysse, a sleep medicine researcher at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study. Based on parent responses to a questionnaire, higher electronic media consumption was strongly linked to poor overall sleep quality, including worsening bedtime resistance, sleep anxiety, and daytime sleepiness.” (SOURCE)

I mean, the potential for increased sleep disruption should already be enough motivation to really lock down the amount of time you and your people are spending glued to your screens but if you need even more evidence, you don’t have to look far. The negative effects of excessive screen time leak into so many other areas of our lives, it’s truly alarming.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychological Science asserts screen time as a contributing factor for depression and suicidal behavior, especially in adolescents and teens.

“There is a concerning relationship between excessive screen time and risk for death by suicide, depression, suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts,” said Joiner, who conducted the research with psychology Professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University. “All of those mental health issues are very serious. I think it’s something parents should ponder.” (SOURCE)

So, let’s break this down a bit:

  • Sleep issues are already the plague of every parent’s existence.
  • Excessive screen time can make those sleep issues even worse
  • Beyond sleep disruption, excessive screen time has been linked to increased rates of depression, anxiety, and even suicidal behavior, especially in adolescents and teens.

Yikes. There are some pretty terrifying statistics in there to be sure. But before you start to panic and throw all your technology out the window and move off-grid into the wilderness, you might just try to reign it in first. Afterall, screens aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s unrealistic to think kids and parents will stop using screens entirely! The key is to be responsible for your usage, set a good example, and pay special attention to the amount of screen time your kids have access to as well. You’re not the bad guy for putting limits and setting expectations, even if your kids will definitely try to make you feel like one.

For all you screen time sheriffs out there, we’ve got a few ideas on ways to keep the peace:

  • Remember, you are the LAW!
  • Lay out your expectations and stick to your guns
  • Guard your wifi password with your life!
  • Don’t be afraid of firewalls and filters. You can’t always control what they see outside of your walls but as long as they’re there you CAN keep an eye on what they have access to at home.
  • Enable those privacy settings!
  • Consider using a technology manager to help manage different devices. We’ve heard amazing things about Disney’s Circle!
  • Be wary of allowing your children on social networks at a young age and monitor their interactions and consumption carefully. Have frequent conversations about appropriate vs inappropriate social media behaviors and model those good behaviors yourself!
  • PAY ATTENTION.Charge your devices in a public place, don’t let kids charge their phones and tablets in their rooms overnight. Put any computers in a public area.
  • For younger kids and even teens and tweens too, limit access to screen time before bedtime. Let those beautiful, developing brains shut down naturally, try reading a book together instead!

Technology will continue to advance and our screens and access to it will only continue to grow as well. Don’t isolate yourself or your family from it, but do what you can to teach and model how to use it responsibly instead!

Having a set nighttime routine is important for kids of all ages! Turn those screens off at least 30- 60 minutes before bedtime and find a good book to read together instead. We always recommend using Wink Sleep Fast Melts to help ease your kids into a relaxed and restful sleep to last the whole night through. Order your supply today, click HERE!

Kalli Verbecky

Kalli Verbecky

Raising kids, writing shiz, living my best-ish life.

Not a cat person.

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