Too Much Screen Time: Hype or Reality?

Too Much Screen Time: Hype or Reality?

This is currently a very hot topic. With the incredible fast rise of availability of technology devices, in almost everyone’s hands, this question is on the minds of parents, teachers, psychologists, and scientists…could too much time spent be having a negative effect on my child or is it a necessary way to ‘keep up’ and be on par with what everyone else’s children are doing. I have had unsubstantiated opinions based on my common sense so I decided to research and see what studies and research have found.

Interestingly enough, in the early 1960’s, the television set was becoming popular and available to more and more families. At this time, the Federal Communications called the onset of TV as the beginning of a ‘vast wasteland’. Fast forward to today, screen time is not limited to the TV. It also includes Smart phones, tablets, and laptops. The internet and handheld devices especially, have opened the door of opportunity to apps, games, videos, advertisers and millions of dollars of profit. Can’t really blame these companies. The demand is being met by the desire to communicate 24/7, literally in the palm of your hand.

So with this huge fast progression, it is wise to weigh the benefits and the downside to the progress of technology, with an open mind. Without a doubt, how amazing is it to pick up a 3×5 inch box and talk to someone on the other side of the earth?? It is also very convenient to have access to unlimited information on any possible subject by simply typing GOGGLE or asking SIRI. Another rewarding feature is ‘face timing’ with family members. Without a doubt, we are able to stay connected in a way that was never know before. So what could possibly be the downside? If this was the extent of how technology is being used, there would not be a downside. Some not so desirable symptoms and behaviors have been witnessed by parents, teachers, and pediatricians that has led to the question as to how much screen time is too much.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has come up with recommendations as to how much time is safe for children to spend per day looking at a screen. Here are their daily recommendations:

Ages 0 to 18 months- NO screen time

Ages 18 months to 2 years- limited and only with adult guidance

Ages 2 to 5 years- 1 hour of only high quality programs intended to teach.

Ages 6 to teen years- maximum 2 hours

The American Academy of Pediatrics did not make these recommendations without extensive research. What was found in many children who exceeded these limits were quite a few adverse effects.

  • Obesity
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Underdeveloped vocabulary
  • Impaired academic performance
  • Accepting violent behavior as the norm
  • Limited creative play
  • Limited social connection
  • Anxiety and depression in teens
  • Decreased confidence in teens.

These outcomes range from Infants to teenagers. From Dr. Jane Healy’s book, Different Learners, she emphatically states that screens have taken control of our young people’s minds. They become reactive vs reasoning beings. She states, “Four areas of concern relating to overuse of technology have emerged that particularly impact learning difficulties. They are attention, language development, “people” skills, and problem solving/imaginative thinking.” What IF this is true, even partially? Should we as parents be concerned? How about us as part of this society and the future of the next generation? Should we be concerned?

The answer is a resounding YES. It is important to understand that overuse leads to an over dependence that is more than a desire for ‘fun’. Instead there are changes that occur in the brain and especially in the brain of a young person whose brain is not fully developed. One that is easy to understand is the FACT that when a child spends more than 30 minutes per day on a screen device, this causes rapid activity of dopamine production that leads to the body constantly wanting more of that ‘feel good’ hormone. When stopped, causes a sudden drop off of dopamine that results in bad moods, agitation, anger, and tantrums. This same result is seen also in adults in several types of addictions. Dopamine production becomes dependent on the behavior that initially stimulated it. The healthy production becomes dependent on the stimulus that then becomes an addiction.

Technology, screens, Smartphone, and tablets are not going away. There are                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      suggestions that we as parents, grandparents, teachers, or anyone else that has influence on young people can do. Not a parent? Share these ideas with someone that is. We are in this together.

  1. Place computers/devices in common areas of the home where use can be supervised.
  2. Install monitoring devices on the device child uses most. Do parents have the right to rob child’s privacy? Yes, until the child’s frontal cortex is fully developed and able to make decisions on their own. Unfortunately, science says that age is around 25.
  3. Limit use to 30-60 minutes daily during the week (over 30 minutes consistently is when addiction begins).
  4. Ban devices from bedroom. Allowing this open window to the internet is like dropping your child off downtown then picking them up in a few days and see what has happened.
  5. No electronic games on the same device they are using to read from. Too tempting for a child to go from reading to game playing.
  6. Secure wireless routers so child does not know the password and able to give to their friends.
  7. When finished use, must sign out.
  8. Smart phone are not for children or young teens.
  9. Walk your talk. Use same guidelines for own use as given to child. Set the example. If a child sees you reading a book, they are more likely to also read a book.
  • Don’t get angry when child expresses discontent with these limits. Be calm but be a parent, not a friend. Child’s job to ask, your job to manage.
  • Create and be consistent about Tech Free Zones. In addition to the bedroom, mentioned above, include also during meals, in restaurants, and even in the car, with the exception of long car rides. These times are for conversation and getting to know each other better. There are few uninterrupted opportunities in our busy, overscheduled world. The home is meant to be a safe haven where happy and sad experiences can be talked about. Have you ever had a child walk into you in a store because they were playing on a phone? How often have you observed a family with children as young as 1 year, with their focus completely on an ipad or with earbuds on, watching a movie? I will always go up to a table in a restaurant where the family is tech free talking to each other and congratulate them. They are very appreciative of the compliment. Keep in mind, the use of devices is a privilege not a right. In the home, only allowed when chores and homework is done. Set the rules and consistently stick to them.

A side note…my research found the following information: teenage girls and boys tend to express themselves differently. Boys will physically fight when mad. Girls get mean. A preteen and teenage girl has no reason to have a social media account. This is where most bullying is found among girls. Think twice about allowing this opportunity.

The good news is, there are rewarding activities that can be substituted for technology. Here are a few:

  1. Go for walks or to a playground.
  2. Board games
  3. Bake cookies for a shut in.
  4. Story telling CDs are valuable ways to increase reading comprehension and imagination.

In addition to substituting activities, it may help to know what several studies have linked the reason why video games have hooked so many young people, to the point of becoming an obsession. Rather than assuming kids are lazy and defiant, an article from Psychology Today written by Dr. Nir Eyal states that gaming satisfies 3 basic human needs…competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Competence being the need for growth, progression, achievement, and mastery, as found in a challenging video game. Autonomy being the need for freedom of control over the choice to call the shots in a game. Relatedness being the need to feel like they matter to others and others matter to them, being part of a gaming community. It has been suggested that game creators know this and design them is a way that satisfies these needs. Why do you think it has been said the Silicon Valley parents limit extensively their children using technology for entertainment? Of course, there is no way we can agree that video games are a good substitution for other ways to get these needs met. No matter how well a game is designed, it can’t come close to the deep satisfaction that real life and real human connection can provide. No game can give a child the feeling of competence that comes from accomplishing a difficult task on their own. No social media site can give a child a sense of relatedness, safety, and warmth that comes from an adult that loves them unconditionally and takes the time to tell them so. When kids see their parents are not only trying to stop their fun but are instead helping them keep things in the right perspective and in the right proportion, they become allies rather than enemies.

It is time to become intentional and do the right thing for our children. A colleague of mine, Victoria Proody, Occupational Therapist for children, whom I admire very much for the work she is doing to educate parents as to the damage that can be done, not regulating  children’s screen time. She did an experiment with her 10 year old son. There was no technology Monday through Friday and only 1 hour a day on weekends. Initially he resisted. He complained, he whined, he stomped around saying how bored he was. After the first week, he began to look for other things to do with his time. His mom suggested he cook dinner for the family, one night. Little had he known, he began to love cooking, finding new recipes, helping his mom make the grocery list of needed ingredients. Victoria interviewed him after several weeks and he actually thanked his mom for taking away technology because he found something else he loved more. A recent update about her son…he is starting a cooking class for his classmates. That emerged from his mother enforcing his use of technology.

It will not be easy initially. Do what these guideline suggest. Don’t give up and give in. I’m sure, no one ever told you being a parent was going to be easy. You will be glad when you know you are providing the guidance your child needs and the reward as you watch them grow and expand in new ways!

Contact me to receive your FREE EQ Assessment.

Prepare or Repair

Prepare or Repair

Imagine having the lock down order lifted and you are ready and raring to go. You have crystal clarity and confidence that no matter what, you will succeed. You have spent the last 2 months using the time to fill you head with ‘power thought’ teaching, joined master mind groups, read books online that would support your ‘becoming’. You know that as a country, no matter how inconvenient, scary, and uncertain we as a people have felt, we will not be defeated. Our nation has not only survived in the past, it has thrived. As a people, when there has been a need, that is when inventions and new ideas emerged. Well, now is no different.

  What are you doing with this new but temporary condition of being forced to stay home? You have a choice…you can prepare or repair. You can dig in your heals and grow in multiple ways or you can become lethargic, sluggish, fall into a depression and when the curtain is lifted, repair all the damage that has been created on so many levels.

It is not easy. Our brain strives to protect us from failing. So when we are thrown into a crisis, we can fight or flight. Here are a few thoughts how to fight:

Look at a few parts of YOU. Pick 1 thing you will commit to doing within each that will prepare you for your future

*Physical (For example-“I will go for a walk every day. I will track my steps and set a goal to increase by 20 steps more per day.)

*Spiritual (For example: “I will set my alarm and get up 30 minutes earlier than usual and spend time meditating and journaling each morning.”)

*Intellectual-(For example;”I will pick one idea I can develop that I have dreamed of shifting toward doing. I will research all I can. I will create content in that area.”)

*Emotional- (For example: I will make a list of elderly people that are shut in without visitors, ones in nursing homes and ones in their own homes. I will send off one card a day or make one phone call a day to reach out and let them know I was thinking about them.”

We were created to be forward thinking, growing people. When we become afraid and anxious, we often loose the energy to be productive and optimistic. Fight against that impulse. We are thinking free-will beings that have been gifted with unlimited potential. What if even a small part of that potential was tapped into during this pandemic? We will have won, not lost. Go be the winner you were created to be!

To Control or Be Controlled…That is the Question

To Control or Be Controlled…That is the Question

To Control or Be Controlled…That is the Question

   Imagine being able to have a desire for something very important to you in your life and being able to stay focused on that. To have a belief that it will manifest. You can see it with your mind’s eye, you can smell it, imagine feeling it with your hands, and hear the sounds that will fill your life. Does imagining this ability to focus in this way causes your heart to beat faster, your breathing to increase, and your hands to become sweaty? They are the thoughts your well-intended brain begins to produce.


    The reason is, the brain is attempting to keep the status quo, to stay in the safe lane, inside the zone of comfort and familiarity, as a way to protect you from failure and hardship. Well, that brain needs to learn a few new ideas, doesn’t it?  This is where my title, TO CONTROL OR TO BE CONTROLLED comes in. YOUR EMOTIONS. Now before you think for a minute that emotions can be controlled, let me clarify. Emotions are just what they are…and there are a few basic emotions that all emotion stems from: joy, sadness, anger, fear.


   It is very important that we not tell someone to feel a certain way.  Feelings are the thoughts in response to a circumstance that causes an emotion.  It is these thoughts that then leads to an interpretation of the circumstance.  This is the key to understanding where emotions come from and what can be controlled.  It is the interpretation we all place on an event or a circumstance. If one could stop and reflect on what interpretation are your thoughts creating and where does that interpretation originate, using logic and think it through and understand the produced emotion.

    In our society this past year, there have been too many horrific shootings of children done by youth or young adults. As a result, my passion has begun to revolve around a long term, multi-facetted outcome solution.  It begins with shifting our teaching of young children to include emotion education. In our early childhood facilities, a great deal of emphasis is placed on academic learning to prepare them for kindergarten and beyond.  That is fine except when there are no intentional ways implemented to build and strengthen a child’s emotional intelligence. These skills can be learned and expected. Making this a priority will produce children who have lower anxiety, prone to less stress, experience less bullying, and achieve more in school and in life.

    Emotional intelligence (EQ) has more influence in one’s level of fulfillment in life than does one’s intellectual quotient (IQ).  Studies have shown that IQ , your ability to learn, is fixed but EQ can be changed. The definition of emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.  I have studied and dissected what EQ is and am now teaching early education teachers how to implement specific tools and techniques in the classroom that increase children’s EQ and to encourage the Directors to support the shift in the culture within their school and create a climate of care and harmony.  The 5 basic parts I teach are how to identify, label, and communicate emotions, how to manage and cope with these emotions, how to identify how others feel (empathy), how to build relationships with others, and how to develop a growth mindset that leads to loving learning and not fearing failure.

Here is a visual:

    When a circumstance triggers a thought that interprets that event and creates an emotion, we could stop and ask ourselves if that interpretation is truth or stems from past circumstances.  This seems like a lot of thinking but that is what you can learn to control and redirect.

    How often have you heard someone say, “He made me so mad!” Instead of, “I allowed myself to get mad because I took what he did personally.”  That is taking control.  I have hope that our world can be one where each of us learn how to be aware of our feelings, what causes them, are able to communicate them in words rather than destructive actions, to listen with an empathetic ear, that will then lead to more deeply understanding each other.  I hope that we all can learn to feel what other people feel as a result of our actions and are sensitive to not intentionally hurting and take the steps needed to help those who feel lonely and isolated.


As we go through life, we do not know what is on the road ahead. Circumstances may fall that totally change the trajectory of any one of our lives.  Even though we may have become emotionally intelligent, we still may need the help of someone else. My challenge to everyone, including myself is…


  • Take time every day to take an inventory of all for which there is to be grateful.
  • Reflect on self, what emotions do I have, where do they come from, and what interpretation and thoughts have caused them.
  • Pause and take a breath when an emotion has been triggered. Allow time to think before responding.
  • Let others know how you are feeling, when it involves them and a misunderstanding.  Pent up unresolved emotions do not go away. They fester and can cause stress, anxiety, health problems and more. Best to talk and express.
  • We never really know what is going on in someone’s life.  Keep the mantra of, “It’s not personal”. It may be more about the other person than you.
  • Do not hesitate to be the first to apologize and take responsibility for misunderstandings, that leads to reconciliation.  Not everyone is working on their emotional intelligence like you.


        At the end of the day, controlling thoughts, interpretations, and response to emotions will lead to a life where the waves that crash upon us each day are not going to wash us up on shore. We can interpret each wave in ways that help us become more of what we were created to become.  That is not something washed up on shore, brought down. Instead made stronger, wiser, and more capable to see what awaits around the next corner of life with eager anticipation knowing in our heart we will not only be okay, we will be amazing!!