The popularity of tablets and smartphones continues to creep into groups of younger and younger kids. According to a study conducted in 2016, 52% of children under 8 years old had access to a mobile device. In 2018, this number increased to 75%.
Excessive screen time from such a young age can lead to poorer sleep and increase risk factors for conditions like heart disease in adulthood. Additionally, exposure to social media platforms at a young age can negatively impact self-esteem and is correlated with increased levels of depression.
Give your child options
Combating the negative mental and physical repercussions of technology use can be as simple as spending a summer outside. Swap the tablet for one of the following options:
- Organized sports – According to the Department of Health and Human Services, children 6 years or older need at least one hour of physical activity per day. Organized sports can give children the opportunity to get outside, get active, and remain social.
- Summer camp – Many summer camps discourage phones while giving children the chance to develop relationships and new skills.
- Other outdoor activities – Consider things your child enjoys, and try to incorporate additional physical activity into them. For example, take a walk or a bike ride to the store rather than driving. Even small changes to avoid the temptation of screen time can make a difference.
Active kids are healthier, happier kids
Children with active lifestyles tend to be healthier than those who remain sedentary, and they show a reduced risk of depression and improved overall cognition. By removing technology and incorporating more activity into your child’s routine, you are setting them up for success later in life. Summers are some of the most memorable times of childhood, so it’s important and beneficial that your kid is making memories and building lasting friendships IRL.