Screen time

Teenager in front of large screen playing video game with headphones on

As many of parents with kids of all ages know, the obsessive features of screen time and modern video games would come as no surprise. I often have to remind myself that my relationship with my screen, be it a phone/tablet/computer, is part of what my children are learning from my example.  And so it is imperative that I have a healthy relationship with my screen as we will be together a long time, and my child’s relationship with their screen will be even longer!  So let’s start a conversation about the addictive characteristics of gaming (and social media usage).  Here are the criteria to be aware of as outlined by the American Psychiatric Association (APA):

  • Preoccupation with gaming.
  • Withdrawal symptoms when gaming is taken away or not possible (sadness, anxiety, irritability).
  • Tolerance—the need to spend more time gaming to satisfy the urge.
  • Inability to reduce playing, unsuccessful attempts to quit gaming.
  • Giving up other activities, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities due to gaming.
  • Continuing to game despite problems.
  • Deceiving family members or others about the amount of time spent on gaming.
  • The use of gaming to relieve negative moods, such as guilt or hopelessness and to escape from struggle in peer or social settings.
  • Risk, having jeopardized or lost a job or relationship due to gaming.

The APA has published a guideline for parents to promote healthy technology use for children and their recommendations, which can be found here.  Highlights for me will always go back to having a healthy relationship with self and others first; screens and media after.  Consider screens not being allowed in the bedroom and not before bedtime. Reduce, replace and reset as often as needed in a day.  Look at resources such as https://www.commonsensemedia.org, and books by Nicholas Kardaras: Glow Kids and Catherine Steiner-Adaim The Big Disconnect.

As always, further consultation is always available.