Dear Dr. B,
I’ve become increasingly concerned that my child may be using too much electronics…tv, computer, dvd, internet, iPod, iPad, video games, etc. How much is too much and when is enough, enough?
Sincerely, Electronic-Age Parent
I’m glad that you are considering appropriate boundaries for your child. Our children crave limits. They don’t have the wisdom or experience to set limits for themselves, so they depend on us. Without limits, our children are more prone to anxiety.
There are several concerns about children and electronics:
Research has suggested that the more time our children spend on electronic gadgets of any kind, the greater the risk that they will struggle with attention and learning issues.
We’re also seeing that the more time our children spend on electronics, the less creative they tend to be.
The more our children spend engaged with electronics, the greater the risk that they will struggle with socialization issues.
The other concern that I have as a parent, is that with increased exposure to electronic mediums comes decreased control over what material they are exposed to. One day I will have to answer to God about what I let me children do and see.
I frequently explain to my children that it’s my job to help them guard their heart and mind. Once they’ve been exposed to pictures or lyrics, it’s in their mind and I can’t undo it. I take very seriously the scriptures “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You do not belong to yourself” (1 Corinthians 6:19)
So you are wise to question “How much is too much?” and “When is enough, enough?”
I recommend that parents limit their children’s exposure to electronics to 30-60 minutes per day. If your child is school-aged, they are in school approximately eight hours a day, and need 8-12 hours of sleep nightly. That leaves 4-8 hours for eating, grooming and hygiene, homework, and playtime.
You might be wondering, and many of my patients do, “what about the summer months when they aren’t in school?” It’s no different. Your child’s brain is developing when they are in school and out, during the school days and weekends. It still affects brain development. Think of it this way, your child’s brain doesn’t know whether it’s a school day or a vacation day…it still has work to do.
In our home, screen time is limited. During the summer months our kids have an opportunity to earn more screen time, but not much. We have a list of activities they can do to earn more electronic time. The list includes things like 30-minutes of reading, 30-minutes of additional piano practice, 30-minutes of outdoor physical activity, etc. But it isn’t a one to one correlation. Any one of those tasks may only earn an additional 5-10 minutes of electronics.
I recommend that you pray about this issue. God is faithful. When we ask for wisdom, He promises to give it liberally. Ask Him what is right for your child and for your family. Remember too, what scripture says:
“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
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We required our kids (now grown) to earn screentime (TV, computer, video games, etc.) by reading, doing creative activities (art, writing, music), or exercising. It wasn’t perfect, but it did make a difference.
It does help them remain creative, and learn to entertain themselves in a very ego-centric world. Glad to hear a testimony of beneficial results! Blessings to you Mitch!
Not only great advice, but wise words about how to keep working on hard things through the summer. I am not a big fan of spending time in front of the tv but my kids can get sucked in very easily. We have to work hard to set boundaries with them so that they use their time wisely. Even though my kids are older now, not littles, they still need to learn to organize their time well… just like me. 🙂 I need to learn to set boundaries with my electronics usage as well. Even though I don’t sit down in front of the tv or video games, I can easily be distracted with my phone or email. We set the stage for our kids and when we see them pushing boundaries, we need to also see what we are doing. At least, I have found that to be so in my own house.
You make a VERY valuable point. We as parents do set the stage, and they watch what we do perhaps more than listen to what we say. In this technology driven age, it can be a challenge to set appropriate boundaries, but the pay-off is better relationships and a disciplined life-style. I’m so glad you stopped by and shared from your experience. I know many will relate. I hope you’ll come back some time. Hope Prevails!
Thank you for your insights … I agree with your thoughts. As much as I love technology, I try to limit myself … even though I have to use it for business and to connect with friends (especially overseas). But, as a child, I did not have a need to be on the different gadgets and I think it is healthier for children not to spend too much time on them, when they can be doing more natural things. As they get older, I think it is fine to let them have more time. But like you said … there is so much evil stuff out there … you have to be really careful!
Thank you for sharing. Blessings, ~Sarah (visiting from Radical Femininity)
Sarah, limiting yourself in your technology usage is a great example for younger generations. So glad you visited with us today! Hope to see you back sometime. Blessings!
This was wonderful advice. I just finished reading and blogging about a book called ‘Growing Up Social’ by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane which was very good and elaborates on what you’ve shared here. Thanks for sharing your wise counsel : )
Thank you Cathy. Sounds like there’s another book to add to my reading list 😉 I pray parents will take some time to think about the impact such activities have on their children’s long-term well-being. Blessings to you!
great point michelle. one of my daughters works pretty hard on this especially. i grew up in the 50’s and our family was extremely late getting a TV. i mean EVERYONE had a TV b/f we did. i see now how good it was. we read a LOT, had to think about what to do when we got “bored” but a sedentary lifestyle and too much TV wasn’t nearly the problem is was then that it is now.
i’m always sad when i hear children talking about being bored. to me it is a sign of non-creative minds! when we grew up our mom was only too glad to find work for us to do:) and we were only too glad to figure out ways to find other things to do…haha!
Martha, I had to chuckle out loud. I was in the same position that you described! We didn’t dare mention the word “bored” or we would be given chores to do, and we’d much rather figure out things we’d prefer to do! Thankfully “bored” isn’t a word in my children’s vocabulary. Thanks for stopping by, and taking the time to comment. I’ve enjoyed grittygrace!
We basically have a no screen time rule as my oldest is only 4. The problem is if she does get a few minutes, she gets obsessive and is practically overcome with excitement. Almost to the point that I think I need to set an occasional screen time (like 30 minutes once/week) so she can enjoy the time and then be content and fine when I turn it off. I think it is so novel to her (because it’s so rare) that she cannot deal with me stopping it.
Emily, if I’m being honest, I LOVE that rule!! You’ve already seen from the very limited exposure she gets, that technology is very addictive, just like a drug. Once they get access, they just want more and more, and frequently behavioral problems ensue, not to mention battles over turning it off. Great job Mom for guarding her heart and mind!! Well done.
Excellent post. 🙂 I am really having issues with my son and video games right now. Unfortunately, my hubby and I don’t have the same views. Although my hubby does say quite often, “If the sun’s out, no video games.” It doesn’t always happen though. Stopping by from Wholehearted Wednesday.
Thank you! I can understand…unfortunately, our kids are inundated with exposure to electronics. I’ll never forget when our children came home with tablets from school–that usurped my control as a parent to some degree. But it is possible to teach responsible boundaries.
My children had earn electronics time when they were growing up and like you it wasn’t a 1:1 swap. Making sure that they were active and learning through those activities was always a key focus. I’m proud to say that as adults they have no issues with un plugging for a while and just getting out doors without loosing the joy in life. I found you through #JoyHopeLive
Good for you! You did the hard work and you’ve seen the benefits in your children as adults. It’s not about deprivation, it’s about moderation and responsibility. Thanks for stopping by!
I cannot even write how many times I’ve seen the results of too much screen time in my classroom. I had a first grader that I could not get through to – I could make NO progress on teaching him to read. We had to hold him back, which is not ideal. His second time through first grade was no better. One day I asked mom to just give me two weeks with zero video games and we’d re-evaluate. No joke – in two weeks, he began to read. That quick! His mind just had no room for anything other than games until games were shut off. Good news? His mom got rid of it and he passed and graduated 8th grade. 🙂 And that doesn’t even touch on the Christian side of things, which you summed up nicely!
Carol, I’m so thankful to hear my thoughts as a neuropsychologist backed up by the reality of what teachers see evidence of in the classroom. What an astute teacher you were, for which I’m sure many of your students and their parents are grateful. The more time our kids spend on technology, the more they become focused on it and “crave” it, so that even when they aren’t playing, they are thinking about it — probably exactly what your student was experiencing. Thanks for sharing that testimony! Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
Good advice! I’m glad you linked up this one at #ThreeWordWednesday too.
Thanks so much for the opportunity Kristin. I find that many people have questions like this, but no one professionally to ask. I hope it helps many. Blessings to you!
Fabulous advice and wisdom, my dear! I have a 7-year-old and I like to encourage him to read, practice music, and play outside. We don’t have a TV so we simply don’t watch movies. Once in a while he will get to watch something on the laptop; it’s like an extra treat that he enjoys and appreciates 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing with Roses of Inspiration.
Great job, Mom! For the most part, our children will live up to the expectations we set for them, and you’re doing a fabulous job keeping those expectations appropriate! Keep up the good work!
I am so glad that I found your blog from #thoughtprovokingthursday this is fantastic advice. I like the idea of earning the time for the electronics. Thanks for linking up and I am sure I will see you more since I am subscribing to your blog. Have a blessed day Dr. Michelle.
Oh, Sweet Jodie, your kind words bless me today. I’m so glad you stopped by and I pray you will be blessed by the upcoming blogs. Hope Prevails!
I definitely believe screen time should be limited. If a parent does not, then the child will site there indefintely. Yes, I agree, their minds are still developing and there is so much about life that they do not know.
Yes, I see that in my practice all the time. Better to limit the time while they are young for optimal development.
Our children don’t have any electronic devices and we don’t have any games on our television set. We don’t have tv connected and only use the tv for dvds. I find that if they sit in front of DVD’s they get frustrated and screen time should definitely be limited. There are plenty of other good and better things that they can be doing. Thanks for sharing at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings
You are so right – there are plenty of other good things our children can be doing besides electronics. As parents, we need to guide them appropriately. Sounds like you are doing a great job! #parenting
Such a timely post. Setting limits is the only way to go. They get so frustrated at such early age with the games it can’t be good for them. Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty
Part of the reason they get so frustrated is the addictive component. I see much less frustration when children are engaged in reading, coloring, bike riding and the like! We owe it to them to set #healthyboundaries!
As always I love connecting with you at #JoyHopeLive Hope to see there again tomorrow.
Thanks Hope! It’s always a delight to see your comments.
Great post with well-researched advice…many blessings to you ❤️
Thanks Beth. I hope it helps this next generation and their parents! Blessings.
This is great advice. I truly appreciate the wisdom behind your answer to this question, and I completely agree. I appreciate you sharing this post at TGI Saturdays and I hope to see you there this weekend.
Thanks Latisha. I pray it gives appropriate guidance to parents trying to navigate the electronic age in their parenting! Blessings!