I’m sure you knew this article was coming. This is the article where I share why I think that too much screen time is unhealthy. I won’t even make it just about the kiddos that I see—it is about all of us. My iPhone has this new feature where it tells me how much time I spend looking at my phone. I’m not proud of my hour log. But, I believe people can change—including myself.
According to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics, in 2013 “the average 8-year-old spends eight hours a day using various forms of media, and teenagers often surpass 11 hours of media consumption daily…More than three quarters of teenagers have cell phones, and teens ages 13 to 17 send an average of 3,364 texts per month.” In August, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement entitled The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children. Current levels of technology use are leading to addictive behaviors and mental health issues. For kids, our answer needs to be play—and not the video gaming/computer screen/social media kind—is necessary for kids’ growth and development. According to the Association for Play Therapy, play is a natural process that:
- Builds trust and mastery
- Fosters learning and acceptable behaviors
- Regulates emotions
- Reduces anxieties
- Promotes creative thinking and problem-solving
- Encourages open communication
- Elevates spirit and self-esteem
If our kiddos are on screens for hours each day, they are not playing and are not working on these skills. Here is the kicker for parents and caregivers—we have to put our screens down too. I had a kiddo tell me recently that he was getting frustrated because his parents would tell him to stop playing his games and to come down and be a part of the family. When he went to join the rest of the family, his parents were on their phones and wouldn’t play the board game he’d selected. This kiddo is receiving mixed messages and it broke my heart to see his confusion and frustration.
I’m not suggesting it is possible to do away with screens and videogames entirely—I know that they are a necessary and even helpful part of modern day education and business. I think they can also be a part of the modern day family. More importantly, I am suggesting that we be present with our kids. If they are watching something, we should be watching it and monitoring the content. If our kids are going to be on the computer—it should be in a common area in our home, not in their rooms. If our kids are going to have phones and tablets, they shouldn’t stay in their rooms, and we as parents and caregivers should be monitoring these and setting up safeguards for our children.
Setting a time-limit and boundary on our technology-based entertainment is imperative—based on the research that I’ve done, up to 2 hours of screen time per day is what pediatricians advise. For younger kids, it should be less time.
When kids are ‘over-screened’ they are more dysregulated, have higher anxiety/depression levels, and have difficulty focusing. When parents are with their kids using technology, and playing with their kids regularly, there are higher levels of parent/child attachment, and lower levels of family and individual stress.
Play builds our brains. Technology, internet, and gaming addictions do the opposite. Our brain breaks down when this happens. Multiple studies of brain scans show that multiple areas of our brain are affected by screen addiction. The grey matter in our brain—where processing happens, shrinks. The frontal lobe—which governs our functioning (including our impulse control) is affected. Additionally, an area known as the insula is damaged. The insula is what builds our capacity for understanding emotions, compassion for others, and empathy.
My challenge to us (myself included) is to put our phones, tablets, laptops, Netflix, Facebook, Instagram…away and play. Play with our kids, our friends, our pets and our spouses. Explore a new place; make a nominal task entertaining (shooting baskets with the laundry basket and rolled socks that need to be put away is a great way to make chores not so chore-y). I believe Mister Rogers said it best, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
- Pediatricians: No More than 2 Hours Screen Time Daily for Kids By Tia Ghose, LiveScience on October 28, 2013 https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/pediatricians-no-more-than-2-hour-screen-time-kids/
- Let Kids Play: Doctors should prescribe playtime for young children, the American Academy of Pediatrics says. By Perri Klass, M.D. Aug. 20, 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/20/well/family/let-kids-play.html
- Gray Matters: Too Much Screen Time Damages the Brain: Neuroimaging research shows excessive screen time damages the brain. Victoria L. Dunckley M.D. Feb 27, 2014 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mental-wealth/201402/gray-matters-too-much-screen-time-damages-the-brain
Join our “100 Campaign”
100 people giving $100 to raise $10,000!
1 in 5 kids experience severe mental health struggles. Thankfully, there’s help…right here in our community. Join 100 community members coming together to bring hope to those in need. Donate your $100 gift here.
Noah’s Ark Workshop at WildChild Resale!
November 23, 2018 (Black Friday)
Wild Child ReSale is hosting a Teddy Bear Workshop fundraiser for Peace Partnership on November 23rd at their Lee’s Summit and Liberty locations. Bring a new friend to life by hand-stuffing it and wishing on a rainbow star. Name your new friend, receive their birth certificate, and take it home. Cost is $18 if you pre-register by November 7th by calling 816-399-0530 or at the Wild Child store. The cost is $22 at the door. Can’t make it on Black Friday? Pre-register and you can pick up your furry friend the following week.
Does Your Company Have a Matching Gift Program?
If so, you can double your gifts to Peace Partnership from this year. Here’s a list of companies that provide matching gift programs to their employees. Check with your company’s HR department or email Amy at email@example.com to learn more.
We have had some great events lately:
We are excited to announce that our golf classic raised over $42,000 for Peace Partnership! Thank you to everyone who made this event such a success. Save the date for next year’s tournament on September 26, 2019.
We are grateful for Porter Chiropractic’s generous fundraiser over the last six months, raising over $1,400 for Peace Partnership. Thank you, Dr. Russ Porter and your staff for your generosity and support!
Thank you to everyone who volunteered for our KC Mavs Night on October 12. We raised over $500 for Peace Partnership!
- Michelle Gibler
- DeeDee Neir
- James, Kim, and Addison Shoffner
- Cary Simmons
- Terry and Emily Whitmarsh
Thank you to our October partners:
- Diane Smith, thank you for your generosity and support.
- John and Keshia Otradovec, thank you for becoming monthly supporters. We are grateful for your belief in all that we do.
- Roger and Laura Neir, thank you for again supporting our Jersey Mike’s fundraiser and for your generosity each year.
- Thank you, Don and Judy Carlson, for your faith in Peace Partnership.
- We are grateful for the additional support of our golf tournament from Miracle Mile Motors. Thank you!
- We are excited to begin our new partnership with HomeAdvisor. Thank you for your generosity.
- Thank you to our new 100 Campaign supporters: Douglas Tire, Integrity Roofing, Rosalie Newkirk, and Sandler Training-Jeff Driskill.
If you are interested in finding out how you can become a Peace Partner this year, don’t miss the chance to get involved. Please click on the link below to become a Partner. To host an event or take part in any of our upcoming activities, contact our Director of Development, Amy Henderson at 816-399-0530 or: firstname.lastname@example.org.