Are your kids spending too much time online? It might be time to set up parental controls. Here’s what you need to know.
How much screen time is too much? The jury is still out, but one thing is for sure—unlimited screen time is not good for kids. As parents, the best thing we can do is watch for indicators that our kids are overdoing it online, and if they are, get the best possible parental controls in place. If you notice any of these six signals, it might be time to consider parental controls for the Internet.
Your kids (and you) should avoid screens at least an hour before bedtime. But that’s not always easy to enforce. According to parents polled by Sleep.org, about 72 percent of children ages six to 17 sleep with at least one electronic device in their bedroom. Common sense media also reports that one in three teens wakes up and checks their mobile device for something other than the time at least once a night.
Your kids won’t be able to get the rest they need if they’re on screens too much throughout the day, and especially before bed. The blue light emitted from phones, tablets, computers, and even the TV can limit the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep and wake cycle. Less melatonin means it’s harder to fall and stay asleep.
Circle’s Bedtime feature enables you to pre-set bedtimes and awake times for each family member, so when the lights go out, there’s no temptation to hop back online.
If you notice your kids have gained some weight, that may be a sign they’ve been spending too much time inside and online. When kids aren’t getting enough exercise or they’re spending too much time indoors, they’re not able burn calories or energy. Tack on a lot of sedentary screen time, and you’ve got the perfect storm for poor sleep, which can also lead to lethargy. It’s a sticky cycle to get into, but also, tricky to avoid in the winter months. Circle’s Time Limits feature restricts the amount of time your kids can spend on screens and on individual sites or platforms, like Instagram or Fortnite. You can also set Internet time limits for categories like games, social media, or news.
Changes in behavior
As kids grow physically, they are also developing their sense of self. Too much media consumption can alter the way they view themselves and how they behave. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), "Children are influenced by media—they learn by observing, imitating, and making behaviors their own.” Since kids are still developing their identity, monitoring the influences they’re exposed to online is important. Lots of time spent specifically on social media also opens up more opportunity for cyberbullying, which can negatively impact your kids’ self esteem. Be on the lookout for any divergence from your kids’ typical personality. It might be a sign that something is up, and they may need more boundaries in place.
Slow language development
Young kids need IRL interaction in order to develop their language skills. In a recent interview, Dr. David Hill, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Communications and Media Executive Committee, said, “TV reduces speech between parents and their infants and toddlers. It’s really that casual, everyday speech that helps them develop language skills.” Boston College researchers have also reported that preschool-age children learn better language skills by actively engaging with other adults and children rather than by passively watching videos of people interacting and talking on screens.
When kids can get outside to play instead of playing inside on their devices, their eyes will be very grateful. Studies that have shown links between how much time kids spend outdoors and an eye condition called Myopia (near-sightedness). After studying more than 4,000 children, researchers at the Ohio State University College of Optometry found that children who spent less time outside were at greater risk of developing myopia.
And then there’s eye strain. It’s also known as computer vision syndrome, which refers to a combination of eye and vision-related problems as a result of overusing blue light-emitting devices. A few signs your kids may be experiencing this kind of of eye strain are:
- Visibly straining to see
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes
- Neck and shoulder pain
Here are some of the contributing factors you can encourage yours kids to avoid:
- Poor lighting
- Glare on a digital screen
- Being too close to screens
- Bad posture
- Uncorrected vision problems
Do you ever find yourself feeling guilty that your kids aren’t entertained enough? Well, you shouldn’t. Research shows that boredom actually helps kids learn how to be creative! And too much entertainment can overstimulate kids. The Cleveland Clinic recently shared a study that showed children who spent two hours or more per day looking at screens were 7.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than children who watched screens for 30 minutes or less each day. Cleveland Clinic Children’s Michael Manos, Ph.D. shared that, for many kids, screens are a quick solution for boredom that inevitably robs them of the ability to manage downtime.
If you notice your kids are becoming easily bored and unfocused, especially during school-at-home hours, Circle’s Focus Time feature might be the solution you need. Parents can specify designated “school hours,” during which your kids can only access websites, online tools and apps that they need for schoolwork, while blocking everything else. Or, if you need to to shut down the Internet altogether to motivate your kids to get outside or finish their math worksheets, try the Pause feature.
Keep your kids safe with Circle
When it comes to keeping your kids safe, you can’t be everywhere, especially on the Internet. Circle’s Parental Controls help you fill in the gaps. Whether you need to enforce the rule of “no Internet at Bedtime” or limit access to specific apps or games, Circle has a solution.
Learn more about the solutions Circle has to offer here.