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Pull plug on screen time

SETTING LIMITS: It can be tough limiting screen time when it comes to teens.
SETTING LIMITS: It can be tough limiting screen time when it comes to teens. Thinkstock

I HAVE a problem - well many actually - but this is one I am really struggling with.

It's school holiday time and I'm concerned about my teenage son's sedentary behaviour caused by excessive screen use.

I know I am not the only parent facing the hurdle of putting limits on screen time.

The recommended Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for children and young people are all well and good but unplugging my kid from technology is becoming a great test and I am finding it increasingly difficult to provide alternatives to the social media and gaming addiction my young person is drawn to on his devices.

According to health and wellbeing experts, children and young people should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day.

Children (5-12 years) and young people (13-17 years) should minimise the time spent being sedentary every day and break up long periods of sitting as much as possible, limiting their screen time to no more than two hours per day.

Great guidelines and good advice especially with the alarming trends that show children are spending less and less time playing outdoors and more time inside on screens, behaviour which has been linked to a rise in childhood health and wellbeing issues.

I know the positive benefits for kids who put down their devices and go outside to play but how do we encourage them to do it and convince them they are not missing out if they're not connected to cyber-space.

It was so much easier when my offspring were younger but now they are teenagers, trying to persuade them to disconnect is not as simple as flicking a switch.

Spending time looking at pixels is a part of their daily life and I have come to accept that to some degree. It's their way of communicating.

I guess I have become a little lazy in my parenting and need reminding of ways to curb their habit of gravitating towards the media machinery.

My parenting style has always been one of arming my children (especially as they have aged) with information and giving them the choice. It's not that I haven't used the "no” word from time to time but when it comes to the use of technology I have a slight sense of powerlessness, probably because it baffles me.

I have read up and checked out what the experts have to say on the matter but most ideas are levelled at the under 10s.

One excellent point made is that we need to teach our children how to control their own use of screens.

I also like the idea of using a program that can block internet access during certain hours.

I spend very little time in front of a screen at home - I get my fill at work each day - so it's not that I am a bad role model. I am quite active in my pursuits and encourage my kids to become involved in activities too.

The realisation is that managing my child's use of media will be an ongoing challenge but I need to take control otherwise the next six weeks will see my son glued to the screen.

Topics:  family holidays teenager



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