Screens are everywhere. Phones, tablets, ebooks, computers, handheld game systems, etc. It is nearly impossible to keep screens away from our children these days. Technology can be beneficial to children. Preschoolers can play games that solidify their understanding of letters and their sounds. School children can get homework help by watching YouTube. Teens can stay connected to their friends. But too much screen time or the wrong kind of media exposure can be harmful to our children. Today, I will outline expert recommendations on how to create a better system for your children’s media use.
Over the years there has been various recommendations regarding children and their exposure to screens. First, experts agreed that children under 2 should not be allowed to watch television. Then there were time suggestions. For example, only 1 hour of television per day. Now, experts are beginning to understand that screens are everywhere and limiting screen time is a struggle in most homes. Current recommendations follow a more balanced approach. If your child plays video games for one hour then encourage one hour of outside play or one hour of reading. Technology is a part of daily life, but too much of anything can be unhealthy.
Know what your kids are watching and how they are watching it. Studies show a link between aggressive or violent videos/video games and aggression in children. Some children are more prone to violence after too much exposure to media regardless of the content of the media. Pay attention to your child’s mood and behavior after playing video games or streaming videos. Does his or her behavior change? If so, explore reducing their media time. It is so easy for children who are playing an educational game on a tablet to click on something inappropriate. In my practice, I have had children as young as 8 become exposed to pornographic images on devices that the parent thought was locked from adult content. It is critical that you know what your kids are watching. I encourage you to have your children use screens in family areas of the home like the kitchen or family room so that you can check on what they are watching.
Setting up systems can help ensure a safer media experience.
I encourage you to be more mindful of your children’s media use. More and more studies are linking social media to increases in depression among adolescents. Tablets and phones are amazing. They allow us to connect with friends and family around the world and allow us to complete limitless tasks. As Voltaire said “With great power comes great responsibility”. It is important for our children’s health that we monitor their use and create improved systems that keep them safe. I also encourage you to set a good example. Most of parenting is modeling the behavior that you would like to see in your children. If you are on your phone, tablet, computer, etc., chances are that they will want to be, too. Think about how you can improve your own relationship with media.
Often times with age comes wisdom and with that wisdom an increase in confidence. We may begin to care less and less about outside judgement. This is called self acceptance. The process of self-acceptance is a long journey and doesn’t mean that a person thinks that he or she is perfect. It means that a person has come to terms with his or her faults and learned to embrace his or her whole being. It can be difficult not to pick yourself apart, but it is unfair to do so. We are not all good or bad, but a mixture of a variety of strengths, quirks, and faults that make us unique.
Our sense of self is a truth independent of outside judgement. The way that you define yourself is a truth, regardless of another person’s perception of you. This is so freeing. Outside judgment has nothing to do with you. You have the power to define your self. You no longer need to worry about what others think. It is what you think that matters most. If you are able to accept yourself then others will follow.
It is important to treat yourself with compassion and be kind when you make mistakes. Forgive your past errors. Let it all go. You are in charge of defining who you are. As I said before, with age comes wisdom. As you continue through the life cycle, allow yourself to evolve. Forget the mistakes you made yesterday, accept the ones you might make tomorrow and begin to live in a present in which you love all of yourself.
We all experience stressful times. We can often feel overwhelmed. When does worrying become a problem that we might need help in overcoming? What is the difference between everyday stress and experiencing an anxiety disorder? There are many disorders that fall under the category of anxiety disorders. What I most often see in my office is Generalized Anxiety disorder. Generalized Anxiety disorder is when a person experiences anxiety excessively and finds it difficult to control that worry for a period of at least 6 months. Instead of worrying about a test the night before, a person with Generalized Anxiety disorder might worry about the test the days leading up to the test and the days following the test. A person who worries to the level of a mental health disorder will often notice that they are not able to function the way he or she used to.
How anxiety can negatively impact functioning:
I encourage you to speak with your primary care provider if you think that you have been experiencing many of the symptoms listed above. It is important to rule out any medical or physical reasons for anxiety; therefore, it’s a good idea to start with your primary care provider. Your primary care provider can assess the severity of your anxiety and refer you to the appropriate healing professional.
I am a mental health therapist practicing in Henderson, NV. I have found that most of the people that I work with have lost themselves on the road to success. A key component of my treatment approach is assisting people in rediscovering their passions and restoring balance to their lives. This blog contains slivers of wisdom that I continue to discover while assisting people become mentally fit.