The spread of Covid-19 took us all by surprise and we’re in a situation of unknown and uncertainty. Being in isolation is a difficult thing for all of us. Teenagers are the most impacted because their social structure is defined by their going to school. Losing this structure makes them feel as if they’re losing their social status.
They rely on the use of social media to keep this structure going. But even during quarantine, there is such a thing as too much screen time. It is our duty as adults to make sure they find a balance that helps them preserve their relationship with their friends while not letting it be of impact on their physical and mental health.
Continued Use of Screens Impacts on Health
Abused use of TV, tablets, computers and phones have a direct impact on your children’s physical health. It goes from eyestrain, blurred vision and headaches to neck and back pain and even brain damages.
Impact on the Eyes
Staring at a computer, tablet or smartphone screen will not lead to permanent damage of your eyesight. Nonetheless, prolonged exposure to the bright blue light will cause Computer Vision Syndrome, also called the Digital Eye Strain. The most common symptoms are dry eye, blurred vision, eyestrain and headache.
Blue light from screen also prevent them from producing melatonin, the hormone that makes us know it’s time to sleep. This hormone is triggered by the sun set but the excess of screen light during night time makes our body believe it’s still day time. This disrupt their natural ability to fall asleep.
Impact on the Back and Neck
Looking down at your phone or tablet will eventually cause harm to both the neck and back. This condition is called Text Neck. It is caused by the action of tilting your head down during your time using a phone or tablet. It also causes damage to the shoulders and upper part of the spine.
Have you ever tried to time how long your teen can stay in this position?
Impact on the Brain
Children who used screens for long periods on a daily basis were found to have lower structural integrity between the connections found in white matter – the parts of the brain that support language and literacy skills. When using the screen for more than 7 hours a day, the brain starts showing physical changes. The cortex is prematurely thinning.
Structure Screen Time
Give teens rules to follow when it comes to phone usage. One of my client’s mom only allows her daughter to be on her phone one hour and a half on a week day and three hours at the weekend. This can sound harsh to some. But her daughter is following the rule and this limits the impact of
phone usage on her.
Teenagers need structure and as the adult you’re in charge of providing this structure. The important point is communication. You need to be ready to explain your reasons for implementing a rule. When they are young, they are not allowed to cross the road on their own as they need first to learn how to do it safely. Once you notice they look both ways and pay attention when
crossing the road, you realise they are ready to be let cross the road on their own.
There are a lot of good reasons why your child can’t spend their day locked in their room on their phone. So, you need to take the time to have a talk with them about the phone rules and explain your reasoning for each rule.
When it comes to the computer or TV when gaming, the ideal to preserve your eyes, is to have a 10 minutes break for every hour spent on it. When they take a break, have look outside the window or go in the garden if possible. They need to be looking as far as possible to retrain their eye. The action to look to something close for too long can lead to short-sightedness.
The importance of being bored
Boredom helps stimulate creativity
It’s from boredom that ideas come. I’m never more creative than when I let my mind wander while doing the dishes or folding the laundry. These are boring activities are perfect let their creativity unfold. Also simply sitting down in a silent room and rest for a few minutes.
Boredom is good for your mental health
Daydreaming provides a wonderful escape from day-to-day life. It’s very beneficial to step away from screens long enough to feel bored.
Being bored is an important part of finding meaning in your life. When your teens are bored, it helps them find value in their own experiences and develop their own unique worldview. This experience of boredom will make them psychologically stronger for the future.
Family Time will Thrive
This is the ideal time to prioritise family time. Nobody has anything better to do than to hang out in the living-room with the rest of the family.
If you need inspiration here are some activities you can plan with your family:
- Write a letter to a relative especially if their grand-parents are isolated
- Make them read a book you read when you were their age and compare views on it
- Do some yoga or Pilates with online tutorials
- Make a giant puzzle
- Start a family project (renovating a piece of furniture, working on an old car…)
- Do a crossword or Sudoku puzzle as a group or make copies and have a competition
- Have a nail day with your teen girl and do your nails together
- Take the time out for a home spa with face masks
- If you have scraps of fabric hanging around, make a patchwork handbag
- Draw or paint each other or your pets
- Cook a meal all together. Now is a time if ever for them to learn to cook
- Clearing and cleaning the house room by room