← Back to all posts

Pizza, Lying to Myself and Concerns about Screen Time

Published:
March 12, 2024

Share this article

Written by Alan Sitomer

I lie to myself a lot more often than I’d like to admit. I’ll eat 4 slices of cheesy, gooey pepperoni pizza for dinner and tell myself, “Eh, it’s not really that big of a deal” and then spend the next day feeling like crud. I’ll allow my mail to pile up day by day and tell myself, “It’s okay, I’ll just handle it all over the weekend” and then when the weekend comes I absolutely hate myself for waiting so long to deal with things I’d much prefer NOT to be doing on a Saturday. I’ll pen a series of blog posts about the benefits of video games and how to turn Gamers into Makers and tell myself, “Those haunting voices readers have about too much screen time don’t really need to be addressed… we’ll just keep plowing on about the positives without earnestly addressing potential reservations.”

Well, like the day after overstuffing my gut to unbutton-my-pants time with too many pieces of pepperoni, sausage and meatball pizza (yeah, when I cave, I cave BIG TIME!), it’s time to address what ought not be a pink elephant in the game room.

Screen Time for Middle and High School Students! It’s “a thing”.

Let’s admit it, in today's digital age, screen time has become an integral part of the lives of middle and high school students. Whether it's for educational purposes, socializing, or entertainment, screens are omnipresent. While technology offers numerous benefits, excessive screen time can also pose various concerns for students' well-being and development. Here are some of the top concerns surrounding screen time and a couple of tips to help manage these challenges effectively.

Top Concerns about Screen Time:

  • Physical Health: Prolonged screen use can lead to physical health issues such as eye strain, headaches, and poor posture due to sedentary behavior. Slouching youngsters eating Hot Cheetos, drinking Mountain Dew and incubating diabetes is NOT what any of us want for the next generation.
  • Mental Health: Excessive screen time has been linked to mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and decreased self-esteem. Fresh air is good for the mind. Nature is this planet’s gift to all of us and last I checked, sunlight, complemented by wearing sunscreen, and outdoor walks are opposed by absolutely no parents anywhere!
  • Social Skills: Over-reliance on digital communication can impede the development of crucial social skills such as effective communication, empathy, and conflict resolution in face-to-face interactions. The more screens penetrate our lives, the more our lives need to interact with other people’s lives IRL. I mean the fact that we even need an acronym to distinguish “real life” from screen life speaks volumes.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Too much blue light emitted from screens can disrupt the body's natural sleep-wake cycle, leading to difficulties falling asleep and poor sleep quality. Sleep matters. I’d speak more about this but instead, I think I’ll go take a nap and return to this blog in an hour.
  • Addiction: Excessive screen time, particularly when engaging in addictive activities such as gaming and social media, can lead to dependency and addiction-like behaviors. We have to call it like it is here: like gambling, alcohol, food and drugs, gaming can become an addiction and if the signs are there, help ought to be sought.

Parents and educators often worry about their children's screen time habits and the impact it may have on their overall well-being and development. Anyone who poo-poo’s this idea as not being meritorious and worth discussion has an agenda that is NOT prioritizing a child’s well-being as priority number one. (There, I said it!)

Here are a few tips to help with the challenges:

Set Clear Limits: Establish reasonable guidelines for screen time duration and usage, taking into account factors such as age, school workload, and extracurricular activities.

Encourage Breaks: Encourage regular breaks from screens to reduce eye strain, promote physical activity, and facilitate face-to-face social interactions.

Create Screen-Free Zones: Designate specific areas in the home, as screen-free zones to promote healthier habits and better sleep hygiene.

Model Healthy Behavior: Lead by example and demonstrate healthy screen habits by limiting your own screen time and engaging in alternative activities such as reading, hobbies, and outdoor play. (BTW, I can far-too-often fall into the pot calling the kettle black on this one.)

Promote Balance: Encourage a balanced approach to screen time by emphasizing the importance of offline activities such as exercise, hobbies, and spending time with family and friends.

Foster Open Communication: Create a supportive environment where kids/students feel comfortable discussing their concerns and experiences related to screen time without fear of judgment or punishment.

Explore Alternatives: Encourage students to explore alternative forms of entertainment and leisure activities that don't involve screens, such as board games, sports, or creative pursuits.

Establish Tech-Free Times: Designate specific times during the day, such as meal times and before bedtime, as tech-free periods to promote family bonding and improve sleep quality.

Seek Professional Help if Needed: If screen time habits significantly impact students' well-being or daily functioning, consider seeking guidance from mental health professionals or counselors specializing in digital addiction and related issues.

Yes, while screen time offers numerous benefits, it's essential for middle and high school students to develop healthy habits and boundaries to mitigate potential risks. By implementing these tips and fostering open communication, parents and educators can help students navigate the challenges of screen time effectively, promoting their overall well-being and development in today's digital world.

I absolutely believe that gaming can be a force for good. But I also believe pizza can be a force for good - until it isn’t.

Author

Alan Sitomer

Alan is Mastery Coding's CEO and a California Teacher of the year award winner who has written 22 books. He left the classroom and started this company because he sees the opportunity for students to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty through obtaining jobs in emerging technologies.

Recent Posts

© 2023 United States Academic Esports League