Is Screen Time Weighing On Your Child?

Child Behavioral HealthBetween televisions, video games, tablets, computers, and smartphones children today are bombarded with an overwhelming supply of screen technology but is all the screen time weighing too heavily on your child? In 2013 the average 8 to 10-year-old spent nearly 8 hours every day with a variety of different media, and teenagers spent eleven or more hours per day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).(1). Yikes!

While these numbers may seem shocking, they certainly are not that surprising if you truly take a moment to ponder your child’s day to day activities. Much of what we do with our time as adults requires one form of technology or another- the same goes for our children. Should parents be concerned?

Absolutely! In May, 2014 a prospective study testing the effects of parental monitoring of children’s media use concluded that “encouraging parents to monitor children’s media carefully can have a wide range of health benefits for children.” (2) To help your children begin reaping those better health benefits here are a few tips for monitoring screen time in your child’s daily life.

  • Limit. Obviously, enforcing a zero tolerance for screen time is quite unrealistic. After all, when used in moderation, screen time can be beneficial in key areas like education. Instead, try to limit screen time to only 1 to 2 hours each day.
  • Monitor. It’s vital to not only limit screen times in your child’s life but to also monitor the media they are accessing. By activating parental settings on media such as internet and television you can better control the media your child is able to view.
  • Move. These days, it seems as if every bedroom within a house has its own TV. An easy way to monitor your children’s screen time is by simply moving the televisions out of the bedrooms and having one or two common room TVs for the entire family to share.
  • Model. Making a point not only to limit and monitor the screen time of your children, but also your own is a great way to model through active parenting, according to the AAP. (3) Create a family home use plan for media and enforce it together, allowing each member of the family- young or old- to gain the health benefits of less screen time.

With so much of our youth spending 8 or more hours in front of a screen every day, it’s no wonder parents are beginning to grow more and more concerned. By being a part of your child’s media use you can better help them reap the good health benefits that come with less screen time. Begin limiting, monitoring, moving, and modeling your way to better health with a little less screen time.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

 

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Sources:

  1. Children, Adolescents, and the Media, Average time spent daily on media, 2013, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/132/5/958.full
  2. Protective Effects of Parental Monitoring of Children’s Media Use: A Prospective Study, Positive health benefits of media monitoring, 2014, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24686493
  3. Children, Adolescents, and the Media, Model through active parenting, 2013, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/132/5/958.full

3 Ways to Help Prevent Depression in School Age Children

Counseling for child depressionWhile many of us are familiar with ways to both control and cope with depression symptoms, you may be surprised to learn that research findings show we may also be able to help prevent them. According to the American Psychological Association (APA) psychologists Jane Gillham, Lisa Jaycox, Karen Reivich, and Martin Seligman all set out to prove just that (1).

The APA continues to state that through their school based prevention program the team of psychologists were able to reduce the number of depressive symptoms and improve overall classroom behavior in participating young people (2). It’s time for parents, teachers, and caregivers alike to turn their attention from controlling to preventing depression in school age children.

To better equip you, here are 3 ways to help prevent depression in the school age children closest to you.

1. Encourage strong, caring relationships early on.
When it comes to preventing depression in children, providing a valuable foundation consisting of strong, caring relationships with parents, teachers, relatives, and even community early on is key. According to a 2014 Delphi Consensus study, “The family setting, particularly parents, is a strategic target for preventive interventions for youth depression and anxiety disorders.” (3)

Help to prevent adolescent depression by simply encouraging strong, caring relationships from the start.

2. Leaving space for living life.
Far too often, caregivers opt to become helicopter parents, or simply parents who hover over their child’s every move, in hopes of protecting children not only from scrapes and bruises but also depression. Unfortunately, helicoptering is not the answer. Instead, leave space to allow them to live life through trial and error. Allow them to make mistakes, learn new things, chase after dreams, and yes, even get a few scrapes and bruises along the way.

Allowing them to experiment teaches them how to maneuver through both triumph and failure in a healthy way.

3. Establish open and honest communication.
Promoting communication that is both open and honest within your home, classroom, or other area of inhabitance is a proactive way to help prevent the development of depression. By doing so you can create an atmosphere where children feel comfortable both sharing and exploring the link between thoughts and feelings just as participants in The Penn Resiliency Project, the school based program developed by psychologists to prevent depression, did. (4)

With depression on the rise it only makes sense that parents, teachers, and caregivers alike would want to turn those increasing frowns upside down. Luckily, the prevention of depression in school age children is hopeful. You can do your part by simply encouraging strong caring, relationships, leaving space to live, and establishing open and honest communication. Together we can help transform depression one smile at a time.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

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Sources:
1. School-Based Program Teaches Skills That Stave Off Depression, School-Based program findings, 2003, http://www.apa.org/research/action/school.aspx
2. School-Based Program Teaches Skills That Stave Off Depression, School-Based program findings, 2003, http://www.apa.org/research/action/school.aspx
3. Parenting strategies for reducing the risk of adolescent depression and anxiety disorders: a Delphi consensus study, Strong relationships quote, 2014 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24359862