Tips to help kids with technology overload

Caring For Our Kids

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Technology overload for kids is now more common than ever – and can have negative effects on their health and well-being.

If your child is constantly connected, we have some tips to help them unplug.

Child Psychologist Dr. Allison Elledge from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital stopped by the WATE 6 On Your Side studios to share the symptoms, effects and tips.

Effects of Technology Overload

According to Dr. Elledge, technology isn’t all bad. But, it’s important that kids disconnect too.

“Too much screen time of any type can make it tough for your kids to get a good night’s rest, can negatively affect relationships with family and friends,” she said.

Elledge said studies also show that kids who spend more than four hours a day playing video games or using other technology are more likely to be overweight.

How much screen time is too much?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • no screen time for babies and toddlers.
  • For Preschoolers, no more than 1 hour a day of educational programming is recommended.
  • For older kids, parents should place consistent limits on screen time… and be sure it doesn’t keep them from staying physically active and getting enough sleep.

Tips to help kids disconnect from screens

Dr. Elledge says to start slowly. It will be more difficult to put all these tips to work at once, so approach using these steps:

  1. Consider a technology fast.
    Settle on a length of time to go without the cell phone and video games. Maybe, for your child one day is a lot, for others it may be a week. It’s easier for kids to give something up if they know they will get it back. It’s important for parents to participate as well. If you aren’t willing to give up your devices, it will be more of a struggle to get your kids to do it.
  2. Set ground rules for tech-free family times. Once your tech fast is over, talk about times when screens will not be allowed, like dinnertime or family outings. It’s also a good idea to set tech-free zones in your home, like your child’s bedroom.
  3. Get outside or take outings with your kids that don’t involve technology. Visit the museum, go camping, take a nightly walk around the neighborhood, or just simple have face-to-face communication with children while traveling somewhere in the car.
  4. Set goals for tech use during the school week
    Example – If your child plays video games daily, and the goal for your child is no video games on school nights, then start slowly cutting back, maybe a couple nights a week they don’t play video games… until you reach that goal.

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