With summertime swinging in full force, social media and screen time usage among children and adolescents have become prominent topics of discussions in most parenting circles.

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According to Common Sense Media’s 2021 report, teenagers aged 13-18 spend an average of 7 hours and 22 minutes per day on screens for entertainment purposes, excluding time spent on schoolwork. This represents a significant increase from previous years, highlighting the growing trend of digital engagement among adolescents.

This much time on a screen is bound to have trickle down effects with regards to health and academic performance.

Studies have shown a correlation between excessive screen time and increased rates of anxiety, depression, and loneliness among teenagers. According to the American Psychological Association, teens who spend more than three hours a day on social media are at a higher risk for mental health issues.

Prolonged screen time can also lead to various physical health problems. Kids are at risk of developing poor posture, eye strain, and sleep disturbances. The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep cycles.

Screen time can also affect academic performance. While this may not be as relevant in the summer months, it’s still important to note that the research indicates that students who spend more time on digital devices tend to have lower grades. This is attributed due to distraction and reduced focus on academic tasks, leading to decreased study time and productivity.

6 tips for Managing Social Media and Screen Time

Dr. Urmi Jani, Psy.D. is a Clinical Psychologist at Choulet Wellness: Scottsdale Concierge Psychiatry & Therapy.

1. Set Limits and Boundaries

Establishing screen-free zones and times, such as during meals and before bedtime. Set timers if necessary to implement this.

2. Encouraging Alternative Activities

Promote alternative activities that do not involve screens. Encourage hobbies such as reading, sports, and other creative pursuits to help provide a balanced lifestyle.

3. Open Communication

Caregivers should openly discuss the positive and negative effects of excessive screen time to foster an environment where kids feel comfortable sharing their online experiences.

4. Using Technology Wisely

Children should be encouraged to use technology in ways that are productive and enriching. Educational apps, online courses, and digital tools for creativity can transform screen time into a positive growth-based experience.

5. Monitoring and Parental Controls

Utilizing parental controls and monitoring tools can help keep track of children’s screen time and online activities. These tools can provide insights into usage patterns and help enforce time limits.

6. Modeling Healthy Behavior

Parents and caregivers should model healthy screen habits themselves. Kids are more likely to follow suit if they see their adults balancing their screen time as well.

Clearly, the relationship between screen time and children is complex and multifaceted. While digital platforms offer numerous benefits, including connectivity and access to information, it is essential to manage screen time to mitigate potential negative effects on health. By implementing practical tips and fostering open communication, parents and caregivers can help their children navigate the digital landscape in a healthy and balanced manner.

Editor’s note: This article is brought to you in collaboration with Scottsdale Professionals Collective.

Author: Urmi Jani, Psy.D. is a Clinical Psychologist at Choulet Wellness: Scottsdale Concierge Psychiatry & Therapy, who is committed to promoting holistic well-being through evidence-based interventions and compassionate care. With a solid understanding of the intricate interplay between mental, emotional, and physical health, Dr. Jani specializes in providing comprehensive psychological services to individuals striving for optimal health and vitality. Dr. Jani uses a person-centered approach and utilizes tailored interventions to meet the unique needs and goals of each patient. www.chouletwellness.com