Three lifechanging reasons to limit our kids’ screen time

Photography: Katherine Heise

By Jamie Geurtjens

We have all heard that kids shouldn’t watch so much TV, but it’s not just TV that’s taken our kids over, it’s all forms of electronic technology, such as iPhone, tablets, toys and home computers. It’s turning bright, creative and energetic kids into uncreative, sedate zombies.

You have noticed this already right?

It’s frightening. Kids everywhere are walking out of school with their heads down staring into their smartphones instead of looking at the people that are all around them. I see kids who are desperately trying to get mum or dad’s attention, as their parents fixate on their own smartphones. And kids are often given a screen of their own, to ‘keep them busy’, or ‘calm them down’ during outings, or when visitors arrive.

But we shouldn’t be medicating our children with screens, because in doing so they aren’t learning the skills they need to succeed on all levels of their life.

It’s not just the kids who have been taken over by electronic technology. What about driving past the bus stop, and there waiting for the bus are people glued to their phones. You have seen this at the doctors office, or in the supermarket checkout line. The worst are those people who sit right across from you at dinner, or out for coffee, who constantly pick up and check their phone. It’s taking people over, and in doing so they are missing out on being in the present moment.

To limit the screen time our kids have, means limiting our own screen time. But are we ready for that?

What if I told you it would actually benefit your whole family? It sure has mine!

Here are just three of the many benefits to limiting our kids screen time

1 – Boredom:
Without a screen to rely on children are able to become bored. ‘Oh No!’ you cry, you can’t possibly deal with a bored child all weekend, right? The good news is you don’t have to. Screen time is actually what’s making children bored. Screen time is over-stimulating, and unchallenging to children. This means that when they are off their screens, they expect the rest of the world to be just as interactive, bright and stimulating. Time away from the screen is ‘BOOOORRRRING!’ However this is where creativity and imagination REALLY grow. Out in the real world, with real people, real space, and real things. Boredom leads to the use of the imagination.

2 – Movement:
Children move more when they are not fixated on a flashing screen. It’s not just that over 50% of NZ kids are overweight, it’s also that they are unfit, have low muscle tone, lack hand and eye coordination, and essential gross motor skills. All these things are easily fixed by getting outside and overcoming boredom. I guarantee that kid who has the tantrum over the TV being turned off and tells you for 20 minutes straight they are so bored they might die, will soon be found bouncing on the tramp, riding their bike, or heaven forbid – climbing a tree! Boredom is uncomfortable BUT necessary, because it pushes children to be creative with their time. They WILL eventually draw on those creative skills to fill their non-screen time.

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