How to Manage Your Child's Screen Time

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"There’s a significant difference between passive screen time (watching TV or scrolling through social media) and active screen time (doing homework, coding, playing educational games, etc)."

Managing Your Child's Screen Time

With TVs in the living room, mobile phones stuffed in pockets, and tablets in the classroom, kids these days are being exposed to screens more than ever. And while screen time can be engaging, entertaining, and educational, when used excessively, it can also cause problems.  

Research has linked prolonged screen exposure to behavioral issues, impaired learning, and disrupted sleep patterns. Additionally, excessive screen time can mimic or exacerbate symptoms of pre-existing conditions like anxiety and ADHD.1, 2, 3 

In this article, we will explore effective strategies for managing your child's screen time in the easiest and most painless ways possible. We’ll also share how to address behavioral issues that may be aggravated by excessive screen time, and how to implement other healthier lifestyle habits to help your child thrive.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Children?

These days, screen time is unavoidable as they are often used for educational purposes in and out of the classroom. But there’s a significant difference between passive screen time (watching TV or scrolling through social media) and active screen time (doing homework, coding, playing educational games, etc). Setting limits on passive screen time and avoiding screens too close to bedtime (you should stop using screens at least an hour or two before bedtime) is crucial for your child’s physical and mental health. But you don’t have to cut out on-screen entertainment  entirely (unless that’s the right choice for your family). Experts outline the following screen time recommendations by age:4 

  • Children under two: Screen time for babies and other young children under two is highly discouraged
  • Children ages 2-12: One hour per day
  • Teens and adults: Two hours per day

If these limits sound daunting, there’s no harm in finding a compromise that works best for your family. Like most aspects of parenting, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to screen time, but analyzing how much your child spends on screens and being aware of how this screen time affects them can help you figure out if you need to cut back. In most cases, they may be spending more time on screens than you think. 

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, U.S. children ages 8-12 spend an average of 4-6 hours a day using screens, and teens spend up to a whopping 9 hours.5 They link this excessive screen time to problems like:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Lower grades
  • Less socializing
  • Increased sedentary behavior
  • Weight gain
  • Low mood
  • Poor body image
  • Less time spent learning relaxation techniques 

Because excessive screen time is linked to a number of mental health issues, behavioral problems, and learning impairments, one key component to Brillia’s holistic approach to addressing anxiety and ADHD is controlled screen time. Along with other healthy lifestyle habits like proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and mindfulness, controlled screen time is scientifically proven to reduce symptoms like inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and restlessness. For many kids (and adults) making simple adjustments to their lifestyle can have a significant impact on the frequency and intensity of their symptoms. Such changes also set a foundation for whole-body health that children can build on and master well into their adult years.

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Tips to Help Your Kid Manage Screen Time

Establishing boundaries around screen time can profoundly impact your child's behavior and well-being. But where do you start? Here are some easy tips: 

Set Clear Boundaries & Create a Schedule

Clear boundaries and a structured schedule help children understand when and how much screen time is appropriate. Designate specific time slots for screen activities and offline activities to promote a healthy balance. This allows you to reduce your child’s reliance on screens without demonizing them. 

Encourage Balanced Activities: Promote Physical Activity

Excessive screen time is associated with sedentary behavior and can contribute to physical and mental health issues in children. 

Encouraging regular exercise not only reduces their screen time but it also improves mood and cognitive function. In an analysis of studies in kids ages 7 to 12, regular physical activity was linked to a small but statistically significant improvement in executive function, which refers to the set of skills used in learning, problem solving and self-control.6

Model Healthy Behavior

You can’t expect your child to willingly cut down on screen time if you don’t heed your own advice. Modeling healthy screen behavior is as essential as modeling respect for others, regulating your own emotions, eating healthily, and more. After all, if you thought 9 hours of screen time was a lot for teens, consider one study’s findings that adults spend an average of 10 hours per day on screens.7

Create Tech-Free Zones & Utilize Parental Controls

Establish tech-free zones in the home, such as the dinner table and the bedroom, to encourage face-to-face interaction and promote better sleep. Additionally, utilize parental controls, or use apps designed for this purpose, to help monitor and restrict your child’s online activities to ensure they’re only viewing age-appropriate content.

Choose Age-Appropriate & Educational Content

Some online content can be enriching for your child’s learning, and others not so much. Wading through the junk to find the good stuff and ensuring content is age-appropriate can be challenging if you don’t know where to start. Here are some tips:

  • Watch together: One way to gauge the appropriateness of a show, app, or game, is to familiarize yourself with the content firsthand. Then you can ask yourself a series of questions to determine if it’s right for your child depending on their age, maturity, and your family’s individual values. You might ask: What does the content teach my child? Is there advertising built in? Is the content inclusive? 
  • Get a second opinion: Most movies and shows offer their own ratings, and some apps/games do, too. While watching them together can give you a better idea of its appropriateness, if you need more help, look to a website like Common Sense Media (, which publishes its own ratings and reviews for parents on everything from movies and TV to apps and YouTube channels. You can also look at user reviews from other parents.
  • Be ready for difficult discussions: Labeling any content as “bad” or “wrong” usually piques a child’s curiosity, so it’s more beneficial to explain why some content is off-limits, and be as specific as possible. It’s also important to be proactive about content that you may feel uncomfortable talking about, such as sexual content. Even with the best parental controls in place, your child can stumble across graphic images or videos, often unintentionally. Having developmentally appropriate conversations about sex and pornography (emphasizing that sexual content found online is as staged as any other made-up movie) can help satisfy their curiosity so they don’t attempt finding answers to burning questions on their own.

Remember to Discuss Online Safety

Have open conversations about online safety to protect your child from potential risks such as cyberbullying and online exploitation. Stay informed about your child's online interactions and let them know they can come to you at any time if a stranger is asking for personal information or requesting to meet, and if anyone is saying hurtful comments to them. Some red flags that your child may be getting bullied online include self-isolating or a loss of interest in favorite activities.

Best Ways to Approach & Manage Behavior Changes

While excessive screen time can mimic or exacerbate anxiety or symptoms related to ADHD, your child can also be using screens as a distraction from their symptoms. Reducing screen time can lead to positive behavior changes in the long-run, but when you first cut down, you may notice they are extra irritable or anxious. This is why implementing Brillia’s 5 Pillars can be helpful, especially when it comes to mindfulness and relaxation techniques, as they can help your child learn to self-regulate and manage their symptoms more effectively. 

Reducing screen time and following  Brillia’s 5 Pillars consistently may be enough to help resolve symptoms like irritability, hyperactivity, and attention issues in your child. But if these problems persist and  you need more support, consider trying a non-prescription medication like Brillia. Free from harsh, synthetic chemicals and harmful side effects, Brillia helps to reduce behavioral issues and symptoms related to anxiety and ADHD by addressing underlying factors contributing to symptoms.

Brillia consists of antibodies to the S100B protein, a key regulator of numerous different intracellular and extracellular brain processes. When levels of this protein are elevated, symptoms like anxiety, inattention, hyperactivity, and irritability can manifest, but Brillia stops these manifestations from occurring so your child can feel calmer and more balanced, even in stressful situations. Brillia achieves this without any off-target effects, meaning it won’t alter blood chemistry, change your child’s personality, or make them drowsy. And if your child is already taking medication for anxiety or ADHD, Brillia can be added to their regimen without worry because there are no contraindications.  

Taking Brillia is the last pillar in our holistic approach and it works in tandem with the other pillars to help your child develop long-term strategies to support their physical and mental well-being on and off the screen. 

Learn more about how Brillia works and find more resources on supporting your child’s mental health in the Brillia(nce) Resource Center.

Brillia is always here to help you shine brigher.

References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
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