teenage boy lying slumped in front of computer at night

Watch out for these 6 screen-time traps

Increasingly, screen-time is taking up so much of our time, and our kids’ time, that alarm bells are ringing.

From TVs to tablets to smart phones and public screens, it’s possible to spend a large portion of our lives in intimate contact with this technology. And it’s often very seductive, keeping us informed and up-to-date with what’s going on all around us; becoming a seemingly natural part of every moment of every day.

But of course there is a downside – several, in fact! Here are 6 screen traps to watch out for (especially in relation to adolescents):

  1. The more screen time, the less physical activity. This is part of what’s feeding (pun intended) the growing obesity epidemic in children and adolescents.

  2. A decline in the ability to decode voice tone, facial expression and body language. Emerging research appears to show a connection between personal interactions based on texting, and becoming less skilled at face-to-face interaction.

  3. Fewer opportunities for positive, social family activities where daily events can be discussed, social skills developed and relationships strengthened.

  4. Making it easier to bully and intimidate others. Online communication seems to remove some of the limits imposed on saying certain things aloud, and face-to-face.

  5. Blurring of the line between reliable and unreliable information. Given the vast amount of content being displayed 24/7, many adults, let alone teenagers, find themselves believing (and sharing) things like fake news items, health hoaxes, and opinions masquerading as facts.

  6. Later sleep onset and poorer sleep quality. Exposure to screens prior to going to bed has been shown to disrupt our natural sleep rhythms — not great, given that adolescents are already likely to suffer from night-owl tendencies.

So what are parents to do? As with most issues, there are some simple and effective strategies available, some of which I’ll cover in an upcoming blog. However, implementing them will take some effort, so seek help if you’re struggling to get on top of the issues.