3 Signs your kids are getting TOO much screen time!

3 Signs your kids are getting too much screen time

How much screen time is too much?

How much screen time should my kid have?

What is a healthy amount of screen time per day?

Are screens bad for you no matter what?

I don’t know a single mom (homeschool or not) who hasn’t thought about these questions!

We ask them at park day. 

We ask them at co-op. 

We ask them to our husbands. 

And we ask them at night when we are staring at the ceiling trying to figure out what to do about the glowing squares in our homes.

I do NOT profess to have all the answers. My oldest is currently 19, my youngest is 13 … and the screen landscape has changed so much since I began parenting.

We are the first generation of moms who are trying to figure this out. And it seems like every few years there is something posted that contradicts the “findings” of the previous study.

>> Screens and social media are TERRIBLE and will ruin your kids.

>> Kids who use screens are going to be fine!

But over the years, I’ve developed a set of questions to determine how much screen time is too much.

These questions help you, as a parent, identify the symptoms of too much screen time. Because “experts” don’t know your family and your kids -- which is unique.

I believe that screens can be good -- when used in moderation. But I also believe each kid (and each family) is different, so you must come up with your own guidelines rather than depend solely on outside sources.

As a result, I’ve developed 3 questions you can ask yourself to determine if your kids (and you!) are getting too much screen time.

These questions will help you set screen time rules for your kids that feel like they make sense and actually can work.

You may find yourself limiting screen time for your kids. OR you may find yourself giving a little bit more.

That’s the beauty of these questions … they let you craft the screen time guidelines that work best for YOUR family.

Want to keep reading instead of watch? Scroll to read a transcript of the video.

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Hello ToriAnn Perkey here and from my homeschool to your homeschool today, I want to talk about screen time. 

Ooh, this is a tricky topic. How much screen time is too much screen time. Oh, I wish there was an easy answer and it feels like every time I'm turning around there's a different answer. And I have been wrestling personally with this question since my kids were little and now they are teenagers. It seems like there is never a good answer to how much screen time is too much screen time.

3 Signs Your Kids Have Too Much Screen Time

So if you have struggled with this like I have. Today, I have just three simple answers, three questions you can ask yourself to determine whether or not your kids are getting too much screen time. Now before we get into that, I just want to remind you that this is a debate that's been raging for a long time, long before computers, long before phones.

But the question is getting harder and harder to answer because the amount of screen time that's available and readily accessible continues to grow and grow and grow until it feels like a parent that you just have no way of knowing how do I figure this out? The articles in the media, I'm reading study after study, one study will say, this is why screen time is so bad or this is why we need to be worried about this. And then the next one will come back and will say, no, no, no, actually that study was done incorrectly. This is the one we should pay attention to.

So my goal today is to give you principles, principles that you can apply regardless of the noise. As people, as scientists and people out there are debating how much screen time is too much screen time. Because the answer to that seems to be constantly changing everywhere else.

#1 Their personality changes.

So here is the first question to ask yourself and this is the first sign if you can't give a good answer to this question. When they get off, what is their behavior like? So if your kid has been doing screens, whether it's a little bit or a lot, what is their behavior like? Do they get off with a cheerful attitude? Are they pleasant? Are they willing to then engage in other things? Or do they whine, complain, get angry, maybe they're rude to you, disrespectful.

If you're seeing consistent negative behavior when your child gets off, even if it's not immediate, like in the next little while, that's a sign that for them the screens are too much. Whatever amount there is, and this is not about what scientists say, this is how your child reacts and it's important to remember every kid's brain is going to react differently to screens.

Just like every adult brain reacts differently to screens. It just impacts our brains differently. And so your child is going to be telling you by their behavior whether or not they've had too much and that might be cumulative, that might be a one time episode. But if you're seeing lots of negative behavior, that means that the screen time, however much it was, was too much for them.

#2 They lose their creativity. 

Okay. Second question. Question to ask yourself, what am I noticing? And again, it's going to lead to a sign. Is my child being creative or do they lack creativity? Particularly creativity that I used to see. So children, little children will naturally be very, very creative and as they get older that creativity tends to start moving to different directions. But everyone is naturally creative and your children are no exception. So if they get off screens or it's a day and they say, Oh, I could do this or this, or I could watch screens, then you know it's probably okay.

But if all they think about is their screen time, if all they think about is getting on the screen to do the next thing, then maybe there is a problem. If it's consuming their thoughts, if they seem obsessed, if they don't seem to be able to come up with anything else to do, they wander around bored and there's nothing in their world. They're getting too much screen time.

If you dial it back, what you'll start to see, particularly if you do a detox period, what you'll start to see is they will start to be creative again. They'll start to discover other things to do because the brain doesn't want to just be empty. The brain wants to do something, so it will start to find other things to do because it's not doing screens.

Okay, so with this, I want to put in a little tiny caveat. Sometimes particularly as your children get older, their creativity is on screens. So they are using digital art. They might be doing something with video, they might be designing a game. This gets a little bit trickier because they are being creative but they're being creative on the screen so it still applies. But you want to be careful if they're obsessed about watching recreational screens and recreational or are consuming screens is where they're just passively taking it in. That's one thing.

If they are being productive and they want to actually accomplish something and they're looking towards a goal and they're making things happen. And well that's a little bit more on the creativity side and then you're going to be looking for these other two signs that I'm giving you. The one I've already given you, the one I'm about to talk to. Does this productivity actually lead to positive results or negative results? So I just wanted to put that out there.

#3 They choose screens over relationships

Okay, so third sign. What is the third thing that you can be looking for? The third question you can be asking yourself to determine, is my kid getting too much screen time? And the third one is are they prioritizing screens over relationships? This is, this is when you look at how do they treat their siblings, particularly if they have to share or if a sibling gets in the way of something they're doing on the screen time.

How do they handle when someone tries to talk to them and they have to disengage from the screen in long enough to have that conversation. Do they have a positive attitude? Are they willing to stop what they're doing in order to have that, have that face to face conversation. Or are they consistently, again, grumpy, frustrated or they just go in the zone and they completely ignore everyone around them and then almost feel angry when you pull them out? If that's the case, probably too much screen time.

But if they have a good attitude, if they're willing to share, if, if the screen is actually becoming a cooperative, collaborative experience where everyone's gathered around watching the latest, you know, YouTube clip that's making everyone laugh, then maybe the screen time is doing good things too and only you can figure that out. 

So three questions, quick recap.

  1. Behavior when they get off, how are they behaving? 

  2. Question, are they being creative? And the side note there, are they being productive, are they producing good things and putting good things in the world? 

  3. And the third one is how are they prioritizing prioritizing their relationships? How do they treat the people around them?

If you can answer that, those three things are going well, then you probably are doing okay with how much screen time you're, how much screen time you're providing.

Now this is the part that gets a little tricky and I have to do this self-assessment. How are you doing on these three questions? If you're kind of grumpy when someone interrupts you or you have to get off. If maybe you can't think of anything else to do except scroll social media and check out the latest feed and maybe sometimes you find yourself completely ignoring the people in your world because you're in your own little world. Then maybe, just maybe, you have too much screen time and that is a subject for a whole nother video. Just wanted to put out there now, don't forget I have a, actually I didn't tell you about this yet.

One of the ways that you can also figure out how much screen time you want to have in your family is to create a vision for you, your family and your homeschool vision is super, super important. It's how you dig in and successfully figure out what it is you want your homeschool to look like. And I have a free class that you've, a free training that you can listen to. It'll walk you through how to do that. You just click the link below and check that out. It's totally free. It'll help you set your vision, which is one of the steps that helps you figure out how much screen time you want to have.

I'm ToriAnn Perkey and I make these videos, videos about all kinds of homeschool topics to help you be a successful and confident homeschool mom.

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3 Signs your kids are getting TOO much screen time!
3 Signs your kids are getting TOO much screen time!

About the Author ToriAnn Perkey

I'm ToriAnn Perkey. I've been homeschooling since 2004, when my oldest daughter was 3 1/2. I'm a mother, mentor, teacher, presenter, and musician. One of my favorite pastimes is learning about ... anything! Read more here.