While staring intently at our phones during a recent
meeting break, we noticed a reassuring comment from Mayo resiliency expert Amit Sood, M.D. It seems "only about 6 percent" of us are "officially" addicted to our various screens, he tells the Rochester Post-Bulletin. Still, a recent study found that teenagers are spending an average of nine hours a day with their eyes glued to screens, "and that's outside of school," the paper reports. To no great surprise, their mental health and social skills are paying the price. "Attention is a zero-sum game," Dr. Sood tells the P-B. "If they're attending to the technology, they're not paying attention to the person in front of them."
So what's are a parent to do, especially during the school year when our life becomes increasingly busy (and the weather outside eventually becomes frightful — at least in certain northerly climes). Dr. Sood says it comes down to setting and sticking to a few simple screen time guidelines that, to work, must apply to the whole family. "Don't worry that they're not listening to you — worry that they're watching you," Dr. Sood tells the paper, noting that for parents to get their family off to a good start, they can start by modeling good screen behavior themselves.
Next, Dr. Sood says it's vital for kids, and us parents, to put our various devices and screens to bed before we tuck ourselves in each night. "These are such addicting tools — toys — that they'll wake up at 2 a.m. and look at that first," Dr. Sood says of kids who keep smartphones, laptops and other devices in their rooms at night.
The paper offers other tips, taken from Dr. Sood's YouTube channel, such as:
You can read the full Post-Bulletin story featuring Dr. Sood here. And for more on kids and screen time, check out this Mayo Clinic Radio segment with Mayo Clinic pediatrician Angela Mattke, M.D. Then be sure to leave a comment below before using the social media tools atop this page to share this story with others.