Screens are part of our daily life and nearly impossible to avoid. TVs, computers, phones and tablets quickly grab a child’s attention and knowing how and where to limit this exposure is definitely a challenge. This issue definitely warrants concern, considering that the average American child spends seven hours a day in front of a screen.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes this struggle and recently updated their screen time recommendations.
Families should proactively think about their children’s media use and talk openly about it. Too much media use can mean they don’t have enough time during the day to play, study, think creatively, or sleep. Teaching children how to use media as a tool to create, connect and learn is key.
With the holiday break quickly approaching, here are a few helpful suggestions for families looking to control their child's screen time and get them engaged in other activities.
For children younger than 18 months:
- Avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting with relatives that may live out of state.
For children 18-24 months of age:
- When introducing digital media to their children, should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they're seeing.
For children ages 2-5:
- Limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
For children ages 6 and older:
- Place consistent limits on the time spent using media, monitor the type of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to their health.
- Designate media-free times together, such as during holiday dinners or while driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
- Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.
Remember, having your children exposed to electronics isn’t a bad thing as long as it includes age appropriate content and limits.