The Do’s and Don’ts of Screen Time for Children

do's and don'ts of screen time for children

This article integrates research and guidelines from reputable sources such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the University of Washington, the National Institute of Health, the CDC, and Harvard Medical School, providing a well-rounded, evidence-based approach to managing screen time for children.

In this fast-paced digital age, our little ones are growing up surrounded by screens. While this tech-filled world offers a treasure trove of learning possibilities, it also brings with it a set of challenges for parents. As your friendly neighborhood family law firm, we’re here to walk you through these challenges. Ensuring your child’s screen time is managed effectively is key to their healthy development, both mentally and physically.

Let’s Talk Screen Time

When we say ‘screen time’, we’re talking about any period spent in front of digital screens, from smartphones and tablets to computers and televisions. It’s not all created equal though: educational screen time might include engaging with learning apps, while entertainment screen time could involve bingeing on their favorite cartoons or gaming. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests different screen time boundaries for different ages[1].

  • Children below 18 months: Avoid screen time except for video chatting purposes.
  • Children aged 2 to 5 years: Limit screen time to one hour per day, focusing on high-quality programming.
  • Children aged 6 years and older: Maintain consistent limitations on screen time and media consumption for their well-being.

Screen Time Do’s

Educational Value

Opt for apps and programs that offer educational value and are age-appropriate. Studies show that the right kind of media can boost your child’s learning and development.

Family Bonding

Watching and discussing content together can enrich the learning experience and create precious family moments. Research from the University of Washington even shows that interactive media usage can boost your child’s language development.

Active Engagement

Promote screen time that requires active engagement rather than passive watching. This means choosing content that stimulates mental or physical activity.

Creating a Balance

Balance screen time with other activities. The National Institute of Health suggests mixing in activities like outdoor play and reading to cultivate a balanced lifestyle.

Screen Time Don’ts

Overexposure

Too much screen time can lead to problems like obesity and disrupted sleep. The CDC highlights the risks associated with excessive screen time for children.

Age-Inappropriate Content

Ensure the content your child views is suitable for their age to protect them from harmful or distressing information.

No Screens Before Bed

Try to avoid screens before bedtime as they can interfere with sleep. Harvard Medical School research shows that blue light from screens can disrupt sleep.

Supervision

Keep a close watch on what your child is viewing or playing. This supervision helps prevent exposure to inappropriate content.

Setting the Screen Time Rules

Creating a family media plan can help set clear boundaries. The AAP even offers a customizable Family Media Plan tool on their website. Make sure to discuss these rules with your children so they understand why limits are important.

Your Role as Parents and Caregivers

Leading by Example

Remember, your screen habits can influence your child’s. Be mindful of your own screen usage.

Engage in Other Activities

Spend time engaging in other activities with your children, like sports, reading, or arts and crafts.

Staying Informed

Keep up with the latest research and trends in digital media to make informed decisions.

Conclusion

While screens are here to stay, managing their use is crucial for our children’s healthy development. A balanced approach, mixing both educational and leisure use with active family involvement and clear rules, can help maximize the benefits while minimizing the risks.

Let’s Hear from You!

We’d love to hear about your strategies or challenges in managing screen time. For more handy tips and insights on family well-being, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

Questions?

First Name(Required)
Last Name(Required)