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These days’ children are spending more time than ever in front of screens.

In a world in which tablets and gaming devices are used to keep kids busy while parents prepare dinner or buy some sanity time, kids are often staring at screens for much longer than they should which may cause problems such as addiction, childhood obesity, and social and or behavioral problems.

But how do you know if your child is spending too much time on your phone or tablet?

5 signs your child might be addicted:

  1. Lack of interest in other activities. One sign a child may have an issue with technology is when a parent is trying to get the child to do something else that is fun – such as going to the zoo or take part in an outdoor activity – and the child is reluctant to do so.
  2. Constantly talking about or getting distracted by technology. If children talk about when they are next going online, or a parent suspects they are thinking about their next technology fix, they may have an issue.
  3. Mood swings and argumentative behavior. Another sign to look for is if the amount of time they spend using devices increases. Also if they ‘become very sensitive when any concern is expressed about their technology usage to the point it can easily escalate into an argument.
  4. Withdrawal symptoms. If a child appears tense or upset when they can’t get online, and this feeling noticeably goes away when they are given their devices, they may have a problem. The child may become distressed or angry by small things and when they are back online become calmer.
  5. Increase in lying or in devious behavior. This includes concealing the extent to which they use their devices, hiding them or using them in bed without your knowledge.

Ways to decrease screen time:

  •  Remove the TV or computer from your child’s bedroom.
  • DO NOT allow TV watching during meals or homework.
  • DO NOT let your child eat while watching TV or using the computer.
  • DO NOT leave the TV on for background noise. Turn on the radio instead.
  • Decide which programs to watch ahead of time. Turn off the TV when those programs are over.
  • Suggest other activities, such as family board games, puzzles, or going for a walk.
  • Keep a record of how much time is spent in front of a screen. Try to spend the same amount of time being active.
  • Be a good role model as a parent. Decrease your own screen time.

The Wee Watch programme requires Providers to limit children’s screen time to an hour or less each day, interacting with one another, reading books together, and being active are more stimulating activities.

Challenge your family to go 1 week without watching TV or doing other screen-time activities. Find things to do with your time that gets everyone moving and burning energy.