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'Phones are made to be addictive': How to limit your children’s screen time

Tablets, computers and cellphones can take a toll on children’s mental health.

However, there are some steps parents can take to help their kids avoid cyberbullying and dependence on screen time.

“When I think about the risks of cellphone use for mental health, I think we’ve got to have these conversations with our kids,” said Angela Taylor, Founder and CEO of Inspire Community Outreach, in an interview on Monday.

To get your kids off of their phones, Taylor said it’s helpful for parents to lead by example and take some time to put away their cellphones.

“Cellphones are made to be addictive. So we need to have these conversations,” Taylor said.

“It’s not about us telling our child, ‘You can’t do the things,” and then we’re doing them ourselves. It’s about modelling.”

Another impactful way to limit your child’s screen time is to put parameters around the amount of time they are allowed to spend on their phones, tablets and computers.

Instead of unlimited screen time, Taylor recommends looking for other ways to help your kids feel connected.

“Phones are made to be addictive, because they are made to be connected and our brains are wired for connection,” she said.

“We have to have other ways to feed that need or we will feel very sticky on grabbing our phone and being curious [about] what kind of notifications are there.”

When having conversations with your kids about these risks, Taylor said to make sure your kids know they can come to you about anything. She also recommends that parents check their kids’ devices.

“It is scary. We want to protect our kids. They’re everything,” she said.

For parents and caregivers trying to decide whether to give their child a cellphone, Taylor said there’s no perfect time, but every situation is different. She added that sometimes kids may need cellphones for safety reasons or to be able to contact their parents at certain times.

“Every family makes decisions that are best for them and families are the experts in what’s best,” she said.

- With files from CTV’s Rachel Lagace.

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