This lesson helps young people define “screen time” and potential problems with spending too much time looking at electronic screens. They will analyze how much of their day they spend in front of electronic screens and think of healthy ways to limit their screen time.
Help the youth define screentime by asking these questions and discussing as a group:
Ask young people to write down their screen time each day for one week. They track their total numbers of hours each day. It could also help for them to write down what type of screen time it is. This will give them a visual sense of how they’re spending their time throughout the week.
After young people have tracked their screen time for a week, discuss the group’s results with the following questions:
Young people might be surprised by how much screen time pediatricians (doctors who take care of children) think is healthy for youth to have each day.
Ask the youth, how much for kids 2 years old and younger? (Have the young people write down a number.)
Next, how much for kids older than 2? (Again, have them write down a number.)
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following for screen time:
Ask the young people, how do you feel about this? Does it surprise you? (Getting feedback from them will help them to feel like they’re part of this process.)
Can you guess what some of the reasons are for why you should only have two hours or less? Ask them for their ideas, but make sure they get this message:
Now we need to take a look at the amount of time you spend in front of a screen each day to figure out ways to get it to about two hours or less, if it’s not there already. Here are some simple things you can do:
Ask the youth to come up with some ideas of things they would like to do to replace screen time with other things. And let’s make them things that will be fun to do as a family, or fun for you to do with your friends, or sometimes just fun for you on your own.
Remind young people that this is just one of many lessons about breaking habits that aren’t so healthful and replacing them with habits that are healthful. Changing habits is challenging for everybody—kids and parents. We can all help each other, and remind each other we’re doing this to make improvements in our health, but also to have fun together as a family.
Set screen time goals for the next week. Some examples include:
Keep track of your screen time each day. When you’ve reached two hours, replace your screen time with a healthy activity. If you’ve had plenty of exercise already, read a book, make artwork or crafts, or even just have a conversation with other family members.
Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, which also includes these tips, so that families can continue discussing ways to limit screen time at home.