Busting Myths Around Screen Time: Balance is Key During Quarantine

May 06, 2020

Because of the COVID-19 epidemic, many of us are now working, playing, socializing, and going to school online. That’s a lot of screen time. And you may be wondering if all of that time spent looking down at a laptop, cellphone, or tablet is good for you.

The answers aren’t always easy. In a nutshell, spending 6, 8, or 10 hours online every day isn’t great for you, but you may be able to undo some of the harmful effects. Read on to learn more about common screen-related problems and how you can fix them.

 

The Myth: Increased Screen Time Can Lead to Weight Gain, Diabetes, and Other Health Problems

man playing video games

The Truth: There’s scientific evidence that too much sitting – whether it’s in front of a screen, on a couch, or behind the wheel of a car – can lead to heart disease, a shorter life, weight gain, increased risk of dementia, and many other health problems.

With increased screen time, you’re probably seeing more online ads and commercials for fast food, snacks, and other unhealthy products. These ads can stick in your brain and influence what you buy later.

Finally, there is a connection between lack of sleep and weight gain. If your device use affects your ability to get a good night’s sleep, then you may be eating more, moving less, and gaining weight.

The Solution: Include more movement in your day. Even if you’re having a difficult time with vigorous exercise, just start moving as much as you can. At least once an hour, get up from your computer and walk a lap around your house. And read on for tips to keep your devices from keeping you up at night.

 

The Myth: Too Much Screen Time Interferes with Your Sleep

woman writing a document

The Truth: This is true, for a number of reasons:
1.   First, your devices give off a light that may keep you up or make it harder for you to shut your brain off.

2.   If you spend too much time reading the news and worrying about the day’s events, that can also cause you anxiety and make it harder to sleep.  

3.   Finally, if you find yourself consistently binging content or texting in bed when you should be asleep, you could be throwing your schedule off, making it more difficult to get restful sleep.

The Solution: Put your devices down at least an hour before bedtime, but if you absolutely, positively need to be on your phone, switch your apps over to dark mode, which is easier on your eyes, your brain, and your phone’s battery life. Also, set limits on the amount of news you see.

 

The Myth: Staring at a Computer All Day is Bad for the Eyes

boy using an smartphone with his father

The Truth: Finally, some good news! Increased screen time won’t permanently ruin your eyes, and no one has ever gone blind just by staring at their phone all day. But you can get temporary eye strain, discomfort, and even headaches. 

The Solution: You can take steps to correct the strain and protect your eye health. One easy thing you can do is simply to blink more often! This will help refresh and moisten your eyes. If you wear contact lenses, try switching to glasses (if you have them) or working without your contacts. A few simple changes to how you work at your computer can prevent eye strain as well as headaches and backaches, too. Believe it or not, sore, dry eyes can lead to an achy back, so try these stretches and exercises to keep your spine mobile

 

The Myth: Too Much Screen Time Hurts Kids’ Brains

back of a kid watching tv and wearing headphones

The Truth: An excess amount of screen time can harm young, developing brains. Studies have found too many hours in front of a device can lead to developmental delays, poor social skills, behavioral problems, and a general feeling of unhappiness or a lack of well-being. 

The Solution: For younger children, limit their screen time to the absolute minimum. The American Academy of Pediatrics has developed these guidelines:

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, no more than one hour per day.
  • For children over the age of 6, set limits on the time as well as which devices and content, and make sure this time doesn’t interfere with getting enough sleep and physical activity. 

Work with your children so they’re doing as much schoolwork offline as they can. Encourage physical play and exercise – get outdoors as much as possible, while still being safe. Make screen-free family time a priority, and do as much IRL (“in real life”) socializing as you can safely, paying attention to the latest recommendations from our mayor and governor.

 

Set a Good Example for Your Family

mother and daughter speaking at the table

We understand how essential phones, tablets, and computers are right now, but as so many of us are battling isolation and loneliness, do what you can to connect with those in your household.  Create device-free times throughout the day – and even no-phone-zones throughout your house (for example, at the dinner table).

We’ll get through this – and until we do, AltaMed is here for all of your family’s health needs. We’re even offering appointments by phone to help you grow healthy, no matter what.
 

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Follow-up Visits for Your Newborn During a Pandemic

April 29, 2020

We know you’re doing everything you can to protect your newborn baby from COVID-19. However, it is vitally important that you bring your baby for in-person, follow-up visits with a pediatrician. Telephone visits are not an appropriate substitute for in-person, follow-up care. 

As recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, regular, in-person visits, starting at 48 hours after their release from the hospital, are crucial for your baby’s health. Your doctor needs to be able to monitor your baby’s progress, which includes checking:

⦁    Weight and length
⦁    Reflexes
⦁    How well the baby is feeding
⦁    Sleep patterns
⦁    If they’re peeing and pooping like they should

These checkups can help your doctor identify any problems early – which could be the difference between life and death.

These visits are also your chance to learn more about your baby and how to be a good parent. Bring your questions to your doctor – no question is too small.


Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions

Newboin visit

Your doctor’s office will explain the purpose of every visit and can even help you schedule these visits ahead of time. Make it a priority to keep every single appointment.

It’s even more important than ever that your baby receives the right immunizations at the right time, and your doctor will advise you on this. For older children, we offer drive-up immunization clinics at some of our locations. Call us at (888) 499-9303 to learn more.
 

Talking to Your Child About COVID-19

April 07, 2020

As parents, we try to shield our children from bad or unpleasant news. But in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re probably already aware of the news and have questions of their own. Children deal with stress, fear, and anxiety in different ways than grown-ups; that’s why it’s important for parents to bring a calming point of view about the subject to help them feel more comfortable. Here are a few tips that will help you talk to your kids about coronavirus so you can provide them all the support they need.

 

Invite Your Child to Tell You What They Know

section 1

Even without news programs being on in the house, children know things aren’t quite right – they’re not in school, many businesses are closed, and they probably sense your fear. So, the first thing to do is invite them to talk about it. Let your child be the one guiding the conversation and listen to all their questions and concerns. Be reassuring at all times and show them you are calm. Tell them it is normal to be worried, but they can always talk to you.

Sometimes it can be difficult to put things into words, so think about experimenting with drawing, creating stories, or doing different activities that can bring more interest to the conversation.

 

Make the Conversation Appropriate for Their Age Level

section 2

Take an honest approach, get your facts from credible and reliable news sources and share the facts in an age appropriate way. Use language they will understand and remember to observe your children’s reactions. If you don’t have the answers to all their questions, you can search for answers together as a team.

 

Let Them Share Their Fears

section 3

It’s important to pay attention to your children’s reactions. If they are feeling anxious or showing signs of fear, address those feelings and do not be dismissive of them. If they’ve heard other kids talking about the coronavirus, or if they have heard about it on the news, they probably think it’s a very dangerous situation that is causing many people to get sick. Keep calm and let your kids know many of the people who contract coronavirus do not get very sick, and many grown-ups are working to keep everyone safe.

 

Help Them Stay Connected to Family and Friends

section 4

During this time of social distancing, remember that our kids are missing some of their usual interactions with family members and friends, which can make them feel worried and lonely. Talking to their loved ones over the phone or through video chat can help them stay connected and feel less concerned.

 

Teach Your Kids How to be Safe

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Teach your children the tools they need to stay safe and healthy. Show them how much they can help you and their friends and family just by washing their hands frequently. Make this a fun lesson while singing or dancing to your favorite song. Teach them that if they need to sneeze or cough, they should cover their face with the inside of their elbow. Remind them that if they start feeling sick in any way, they should let you know. Then reassure them it could just be a simple cold (but check with your family doctor, anyway).

 

Protect Your Whole Family with the Right Information

The news changes fast, and unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusing and dangerous misinformation out there. AltaMed is here for you to provide the latest updates, reliable news, and facts to keep your family safe.

We’re here for your other health needs and are now offering telephone appointments. Call us to find out about scheduling an appointment.