As a parent, do you believe that you’re a good role model for your child? It seems like a simple question and our experience shows that a majority of parents want to be good role models. When you look closer at every detail of your life, though, you may find some potentially damaging behaviors that can have a negative effect on your children’s well-being.
One potentially damaging behavior that a parent can pass onto their child is an over-reliance or addiction to screen time. Our Tampa-based psychologists and therapists would like to highlight how this behavior can easily become an addiction and how it can have a negative effect on your children. We’ve also included some statistics that will show how serious the problem is.
Ask yourself how many hours a day your attention is focused on a screen. This can be time spent with any of the following:
- Desktop computers and laptops
According to a recent survey by Common Sense Media, the average parent spends more than nine hours of their day in front of a screen. NINE! You may wonder, “How is it possible that I spend so many hours looking at a screen?”
Well, think about it. You use a computer at work, browse through social media on your phone, and come home where you wind down by watching your favorite shows on a TV, tablet, or phone. Nine hours would be incredibly easy to eclipse. But more importantly, if a majority of your day is focused on a screen, what type of example does this set for your children?
The Effects on Your Children
The main concern of an adult screen addiction is how it affects the emotional development of the children with whom they spend time. At Rice Psychology Group, we are often asked about the best practices to manage screen time for all ages and, unfortunately, there isn’t a standardized approach.
I recently attended a webinar by Mary A. Fristad, Ph.D. on the topic of social media use and social-emotional well-being among adolescents. Dr. Fristad discussed the rising rates of social media use among adolescents aged 13 to 17, the impact on sleep hygiene, and how the focus on “Likes” on online content affects self-esteem and mental health.
She cited a 2018 study by Common Sense Media that found that 89% of adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17 have a smartphone, and roughly 27% of them check their social media hourly. More than half of them rarely silence their phones when hanging out with friends. If adolescents are checking their phones multiple times a day, if not multiple times per hour, it becomes a concern that they may not be engaging in healthy habits such as:
- Receiving quality sleep
- Maintaining healthy friendships
- Learning without distractions
- Developing strong social-emotional abilities
Researchers still don’t know for certain if the increase in depression and anxiety is connected to social media interactions, but we suspect there is a link. With that said, I’d like to offer the following:
- It’s important to monitor screen time and, specifically, social media use.
- For all of us, but kids, in particular, increase face-to-face interactions.
- Have healthy conversations about the pros and cons of technology in order to help adolescents navigate the online world.
An Eye-Opening Documentary
This subject is the focus of the new documentary Screenagers The Next Chapter: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience. In this follow-up to 2016’s Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age, Dr. Delaney Ruston examines the science behind a teen’s emotional challenges, the interplay of social media, and, most importantly, what can be done to help them build crucial skills to navigate stress, anxiety, and depression in our digital age.
On Tuesday, October 22, 2019, you can attend a free screening of this powerful documentary with Dr. Wendy Rice and the Rice Psychology Group team. In addition to the viewing, Dr. Rice will lead a dynamic and engaging conversation with those in attendance about these issues.
The impact of social media and other screen time is incorporated in all of the topics raised in this documentary, such as how it may be impacting our teens’ mental health, what we can do as parents to help youths in the face of struggles, and how to be better role models for children.