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Screen time among young people is fairly problematic today, as many spend a significantly greater amount of time using tablets and smartphones than health professionals recommend. This excess has received blame for several health problems, including (but not limited to) poor mental health and obesity. In order to mitigate these effects, one must understand what encourages children to soak up so much screen time.

Watch and Learn

Children are heavily impacted by watching others. They develop their behavior and learn almost exclusively this way. They especially learn from watching their parents, and this observation is now heavily affected by screen use. As it turns out, the device types used by parents, as well as the duration for which they use them, are the most powerful predictors of screen time and use in their children. Parents must set rules on screen and technology availability and use, and ensure that they are abiding by those rules as well.

Parenting While Distracted

The modern world places high demands on parents. While they are responsible for creating the limits to their child’s time in front of a screen, duties of work and home life can make it hard for them to switch off, limiting their own use. Constant connectivity allowed by mobile phones also means that distracted parenting can result. It is thought that modern-day parents spend more time with their children than their own but that the interactions have decreased in quality.

All too often, children hear the phrase “just a minute” from their parents as they try to tear themselves away from their phones. Such phrases have led researchers. who focus on social elements, to create the word “technoference.” This describes the way technology interferes in relationships; the worst case being when the relationship in question is between parents and children.

Find Quality Time Free of Screens

More than 6,000 children from the ages of 8 to 13 were studied, and more than 33% were discovered to feel unimportant when one or both parents used their phones during mealtimes, conversations, or other family time. These children can feel as though they are competing for attention. They then have tendencies to act out due to feelings of anger, sorrow, or loneliness. 

Children thrive when receiving their parents’ attention and feelings of safety. Putting screens away to focus on family and children results in happy parenting, as well as happy children, strong connections, and positive relationships.