We live in a technology-based world, and a certain amount of use is appropriate and even helpful. Most schools have computer-based lessons, and electronic devices must be readily available. Beyond schoolwork, though, there is a gray area involving how much screen time is too much.
Considerable research has been conducted over the last 10 years, and
most suggests that overall development can be stunted if leisure time solely consists of electronic interaction. Because of this, it is important for parents to monitor amounts of time for television, computer games, general Internet usage and social media.
Balance is the key. You can avoid overuse of electronics by requiring a balance of physical activity, social interaction, hobbies and screen time. To figure out what's best for your family, follow this plan to create a balanced leisure diet in the same way you might determine a healthy diet for eating.
Next, determine a menu of leisure activities along with the average percentage of time you want your child or teen to include for each. For example, your menu could contain: physical activity (20 percent), inter- acting (live in person) with siblings or friends (30 percent), non-electronic hobbies (30 percent), and screen time (20 percent).
Next, take a look at an average week’s schedule and discuss how much time should be allotted for each leisure activity. For instance, if your children have 2 hours of free time after school, based on the above percentages, they would spend about 25 minutes doing a physical activity, 35 minutes playing with others, 35 minutes on a hobby, and have 25 minutes remaining for screen time.
Kimberly Harrison, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and founder of The Conative Group, PLLC. She provides individual and group therapy and psychoeducational testing. This fall Dr. Harrison is leading a group on parenting children under the influence of technology. Call 713.993.7030 for more information or visit www.theconativegroup.com