Recently I was talking to my cousin about the amount of time he allows his two-year old to be in front of the screen. This started a conversation about how I don’t let my 10-year old watch any television during the week. Our conversation turned into whether or not the amount of time in front of the screen makes a negative impact. This prompted me to put some research into the subject and find out what the professionals suggest. I really always went to my sister, a speech therapist and my go to guru for what I should and should not allow my daughter. I trust and respect her input and her knowledge.
So first, here is what screen time means, watching television, being on computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets.
I found out that too much screen time has been linked to health problems in kids including obesity and emotional problems. Experts say using media while in the classroom can be helpful, but too much use outside school decreases academic performance. Using it at bedtime has been shown to disrupt sleep. Technology can also get in the way of family time. As with anything in life balance is key.
Here is a family media use plan that is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Mealtimes should be screen-free.
- Homework should be done without any electronics.
- If homework requires a computer, have kids work on it in the kitchen or other common area.
- Don’t use electronics during the school week; this will help avoid creating a dynamic where kids rush their schoolwork to get to their screen time.
- Have kids earn screen time by equal time spent on physical activity or chores.
- Make bedtime screen-free.
Here are the limits of screen time for kids in different age groups according to experts:
- Ages 0-2, no screen time
- Ages 2-3, 30 minutes per day
- Ages 3-5, 1 hour per day
- Ages 5-6, 1 and a half hours per day
- Ages 6-12 2 hours per day
So now we know that too much screen time is harmful, but it’s important to also think about what our kids are doing online. Content matters! We can use screen time to learn, create and challenge ourselves or simply to veg out. It’s important that our children’s screen time emphasizes the first three.
Obviously technology is here to stay and we want our kids to thrive in this digital world. They can do this with our support and involvement. Start a conversation on the risks of technology use and how much screen time Is too much.
Good luck, they aren’t going to like it now but they will thank you later in life.
Oh the joys of parenting!