Children and screen time.
Parents and grandparents have been trying to navigate the screen time dilemma for a while now. So what exactly do we mean by screen time and children? Screen time can mean watching television, using tablets or computers, video watching, or even scrolling on smartphones or smartwatches. Your child’s age will determine which screen time will pertain to them. So this is meant to be a source of information to help.
Well to start, let’s all agree, screen time is not all good or all bad. Everything in moderation, they say. Of course, you know your child’s needs, but with that being said, there are some guidelines for children and screen time. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) here are some healthy guidelines for children’s screen time:
Children under 2: Avoid all screen time for children younger than 18-24 months old, except for video-chatting or time co-playing with parents on apps after 6 months of age.
Children ages 2-5: Children ages 2 to 5 years should have no more than one hour of screen time of high-quality, educational content per day.
Children ages 6 and older: Establish personal screen time limits that ensure that media does not interfere with sleep, exercise or other healthy behaviors.
What are some of the negative effects? There are physical and mental effects for too much time in front of a screen such as vision problems, speech delays, lack of good sleep, lower school achievement, lack of social skills, higher risk for obesity, behavior problems, higher risk for depression, anxiety, and depression and problems with attention span.
So what are some tips that will help decrease screen time?
- Remove the TV or computer from your child’s bedroom.
- Do not allow TV watching during meals or homework.
- Do not let your child eat while watching TV or using the computer.
- Do not leave the TV on for background noise. Turn on the radio instead, or have no background noise.
- Decide which programs to watch ahead of time. Turn off the TV when those programs are over.
- Suggest other activities, such as family board games, puzzles, or going for a walk.
- Keep a record of how much time is spent in front of a screen. Try to spend the same amount of time being active.
- Be a good role model as a parent. Decrease your own screen time to 2 hours a day.
- If it is hard not having the TV on, try using a sleep function so it turns off automatically.
- Challenge your family to go 1 week without watching TV or doing other screen-time activities. Find things to do with your time that get you moving and burning energy.
On the other hand, screen time can produce some positive results, as long as used wisely. Some applications help enforce or teach general topics of information in a fun way such as reading or math. Parents must be choosy about the content your child or grandchild will consume and it is best to co-play or co-view with your little one. Some applications help children stay connected to parents away for work or grandparents and family who are not able to be there in person. Finding time to spend with your kids is the most important. Don’t rule out good old fashioned books, games and playtime that does not include screen time. Most importantly, don’t use screen time as a babysitter.
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