Raise your hand if your child loves using a tablet. *everyone’s hand in the world goes up*
Digital devices are everywhere these days. And it’s pretty common for kids to use screen devices, such as tablets, computers, and TVs, all the time – even for educational purposes.
For kids with ADHD, though, excessive screen time can pose some serious problems. While it’s unlikely that watching TV will cause ADHD, it can certainly worsen the symptoms. Many television programs and movies are designed to cater to short attention spans, which is something that people with ADHD do not need help developing. Not to mention that an excessive amount of screen time can actually contribute to behavioral problems in some kids, including aggression, irritability, and hyperactivity.
Personally, I don’t know if screen time is actually worsening my kids’ ADHD, but I do know that when they watch it for too long, they have an extremely difficult time settling down, listening, and paying attention afterward. So in our family, we use very clear screen time limits for kids and they seem to be working for us. Here are a few of the suggestions we’ve tried.
Setting Screen Time Limits for Kids with ADHD
Set a daily allotment of screen time.
On school days, we have a limit of no more than one hour of screen time per day. When we’re doing a relaxed day, I might let them watch more, depending on the content. If they want to watch a documentary, I don’t mind if it’s three hours long. If they want to watch Phineas and Ferb, I set the limit to no more than two episodes. They get so worked up after Phineas and Ferb that I can just forget about getting anything else productive done that day. 🙂
Time it right.
If I want my kids to take a nap in the afternoon, I’ve found that I simply cannot let them watch television or play a video game that morning. They won’t settle down enough to rest. So, if I intend for them to take a nap, I save screen time until after they get up from resting.
We also don’t watch television with them in the evenings. TV after dinner means an extremely lengthy wind-down period before bed. If we watch anything with them, we try to do so before 5 p.m. That way, we have about three hours before bedtime to help them begin calming down.
Tie screen time to schoolwork.
In our family, the kids have to earn screen time based on their schoolwork for that day. I make a list of assignments or topics we have to cover that day. If we get through them all and their work is up to par, they earn screen time at the end of the day.
We do complete some school assignments on the computer. But I try to use low-intensity programs and websites such as Khan Academy and Essential Skills Advantage. They don’t have the loud noises and frenetic action of some other educational sites, and I notice that my kids do a better job of focusing when we use them.
Have you struggled with setting screen time limits for kids with ADHD in your family? How do you avoid excessive screen time with your kids? Let us know in the comments!
This post is part of the 31 Days of ADHD Homeschooling series! Stop by tomorrow for Day 27: How to Increase Attention Span in ADHD Kids!