Technology is commonly a top gift for the holidays- especially for our youth. Popular iPads, phones, computers, and video games made their way under trees across America this holiday season but research shows they could be doing more harm than good.

A recent National Institutes of Health study found in early testing significant differences in brain chemistry for kids who had at least seven hours of screen time a day compared to kids who used screens less. It's time to address the issue of screen time in your family and develop a healthy relationship technology in the new year with these tips.

Limit Screen Time

According to CBS News, "The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding screen time other than video chatting for children younger than 18 months. For children between 2 to 5 years old, the group recommends limiting screen time to one hour per day with "high-quality programs."

Try to find constructive ways to occupy your child's downtime. Coloring, building blocks, and imaginative play are all great ways to keep children entertained. Too much screen time can rob our child of beneficial growth, communication and social skills developed through play.

Make Technology Rules

This is especially useful for teens. Use the new year as an opportunity to create guidelines and house rules about technology. No phones at the dinner table can help strengthen family relationships and connections.

Unplug one hour before bed to help decrease anxiety and depression triggers social media platforms can have on teens. This rule can also create a healthy sleep routine.

Focus On High-Quality Use

Since completely eliminating screen time in 2019 is likely unrealistic, focus on quality screen time. When your children plug in, make sure screen time is useful. Some cartoons with elements like rapid screen changes and flashing colors can overstimulate children. Overstimulation can contribute to conditions like ADHD. Stick to highly-rated educational apps and shows that encourage growth and development.

Above all, don't ignore the importance of mental wellness for children in the new year and beyond. 

Crisis Services

Always contact the Cedar Oaks Team with any concerns or questions. In an emergency, or if you are unable to contact us, listed below are some additional helplines and advocacy services. These are run by different organizations.  They are free services that you can use for talk or text support in an emotional crisis. For a medical emergency always call 988.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

If you would like immediate help, please call or text 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). Through this toll-free phone number, we offer a network of crisis centers across the country. These centers staff their lines with people who are trained to listen and offer support to people in emotional crisis. If you are in an immediate medical crisis, please call 988.

North Carolina Hopeline – you talk, and we listen.

CALL OR TEXT: 919-231-4525 | 877-235-4525

NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Health

Crisis line, information, and advocacy

NAMI North Carolina

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