Mobile technologies such as smartphones and tablets have changed the way how people interact. However, raising tweens in a media-saturated society is a major digital parenting concern. In fact, Common Sense Media’s infographic revealed that an average tween spends 4.4 hours of screen time. Since multitasking has become a new normal for tweens and teens, 76 percent of their daily media diet comes from listening to music. Also, tweens use their media devices to watch videos, TV shows and reading, which makes 41 percent of their daily media consumption. Although, tweens prefer passive media consumption over communication and interactive consumption, too much screen time is bad for their overall development. The more they are attached to their media devices, the more tweens are becoming inactive.
How much screen time is too much for tweens?
Here is a guide on how to encourage your tween to reduce his or her screen time.
Watch your own screen time
You may think that your tween isn’t paying attention to your media habits but they do. The time you spend texting, using social media or keeping your smartphone beside you while having dinner becomes their personal media habit. As a parent, you should learn to watch your own screen time. Be your tween’s role model by not texting while driving, spending too much time on social media, and turning your smartphone off while eating. Practice what you preach and your children will follow.
Set rules about their screen time
Limiting your tween’s screen time may sound harsh to them, but it will help them regulate their media use. It’s also better to discuss media rules with the family. It’s important to get your tween involved when setting these rules. Create a media schedule which works for them. Formulate guidelines on what they can watch or listen online. Teach them how to pick the right apps and search the Internet properly. These will teach your tween the value of self-regulation and digital literacy. Also, this gives you an insight on their interests and schedule a media day with the family.
Help them socialize outside social media
Remind your tween that they can socialize outside social media. Instead of bringing your tweens to your social events, help them find age-appropriate activities in your community. Volunteer work at a local community center, after school activities or church groups, have social events designed to encourage tweens and teens to socialize. These activities will also encourage them to reduce screen time and go out with their new peers.
Encourage them to get physically active and exercise
According to Gwen O’Keeffe MD, “The more time kids spend in front of screens, the more inactive they are.” As a pediatrician, she encourages parents to help their tweens and teens to get into physical activities. Let your tween choose the type of activity he or she is interested in. Accompany them to the gym, basketball court, or baseball field. If they’re a bit shy, look for exercise videos which you can do with your tweens. Look for this video online and ask the family to join in. Exercising as a family will motivate your tween to become physically active and ditch the screen.
According to an article published by the American Association of Pediatrics, the recommended screen time for tweens is based on their parents. It’s up to the parent on how they’ll raise their digital native. Tweens will be tweens and they will commit media mistakes.
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