By Ali Steward, MPH, Director Youth Services at Beach Cities Health District
We’ve memorized the benchmarks to keep us physically healthy: drink at least 8 glasses of water per day; log at least 10,000 steps; make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
But what are the hallmarks of a healthy screen time diet? Just like with nutrition, moderation is key, but most parents – and experts – can agree that today’s youth are binging on Snapchat and selfies, with adverse health implications as dire as overindulging in a steady stream of Slurpees and Snickers bars.
A recent ABC news segment shared that Americanadults spend the equivalent of 49 days a year on their phone and tablets. Children aren’t faring much better – those ages 8-11 are spending nearly 4 hours per day on screen time (twice the recommended limit) and teenagers spend even more, with conservative estimates around 6 hours per day, outside of schoolwork.
We need to go on a diet, Beach Cities. A screen time diet.
We’ll be shedding the weight of endless hours ofmindlessly scrolling but gaining more time for the things that matter most: family, friends, hobbies and real life.
To coincide with the kickoff of the Families Connected Speaker Series, which will focus on screen time, cyber safety and digital citizenship, Beach Cities Health District will be observing a #ScreenTimeChallenge across the Beach Cities Sept. 16-20.
I’m weighing in at the start of the challenge with these measurements: 20 hours, 22 minutes of screen time last week and 531 total pickups (found in the “screen time” section of your settings). Some of that time was productive (31 minutes on my Wunderlist) but most was not (I’m looking at you, Instagram – 3 hours and 11 minutes!). No wonder I needed the Calm app (11 minutes).
Join me as I embark on a digital detox and log your minutes at bchd.org/screentime.
Upcoming Families Connected Speaker Series
We hope you can join us for “Media Moms & Digital Dads: A Fact-Not-Fear Approach to Parenting in the Digital Age,” featuring Dr. Yalda Uhls on Sept. 19 from 6:30 – 8 p.m. at Hermosa Valley School, presented in partnership with South Bay Families Connected. Register at southbayfamiliesconnected.org/events.
For more resources on social media and technology, visit South Bay Families Connected.