Ask the North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center experts

Ask the North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center experts

In this monthly column, therapists from North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center will be answering your questions on issues related to parenting, mental health and children’s well-being. To submit a question, please use the link

Question: My 11-year daughter is always on her device and doesn’t express interest in any other activities. I know she uses her phone a lot to communicate with friends so I am hesitant to take it away from her. I want her to be involved in other things besides her phone.  She does well academically and doesn’t have any behavior problems. The summer is here and I’m concerned she will spend even more time on her phone. Am I overthinking this or should I be worried? —On the fence mom

Dear On the fence mom: It’s understandable as parents to keep a pulse on the amount of time our children spend on their screens and struggle with determining what healthy technology limits look like for each child. Smartphones, gaming systems and screens are everywhere and when your child is using a device, they are disengaging with something else.

Rather than spotlight concern for her technology usage only, transform this into an opportunity to create and adopt healthier tech habits as an entire family.

You can start slowly by ensuring everyone in the house takes a break from their devices for at least 1 hour each day. Consider replacing the screen time by engaging in other activities around the house or outside. You can go on family walks, ride bikes, play a sport or dance to a favorite song. Physical activity can improve their mood and afford opportunities for creativity, collaboration and executive functioning. You can encourage your daughter to choose the type of activity to promote fun and wellness. By giving her that autonomy, it also helps to build her confidence and enhances her communication and interpersonal skills.

You can also have your family begin to pay attention to providing ample distance from their face and the device.  Screens emit short-wavelength blue light that shines brightly and right in your face. This exposure impairs melatonin production and interferes with your ability to fall asleep as well as with the quality of your sleep once you do nod off.  Make sure that the family’s sleep hygiene is not being impacted by screen time.

North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, Long Island’s leading children’s mental health organization, is seeing clients both remotely via telehealth platforms and in person, depending on the clients’ needs. No one is ever turned away for inability to pay. To make an appointment, call 516-626-1971 or email [email protected].

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