Whether you want to admit it or not, screen time is a “thing” for kids of pretty much all ages. Statistics show that many parents start exposing their children to screen time as young as three years old. Whether you subscribe to that idea or not, one thing that cannot be denied is that kids and screens seem to go together like peas and carrots these days. Parents and doctors know this to be true and that’s why the leading group of doctors in America has listed its recommendations when it comes to the amount of screen time our kids should have. Take a look at what the American Academy of Pediatrics has to say:
18 months and under: No screen time except for video-chatting
18-24 months: Watch with your child, help them understand what they’re watching and make sure it is high-quality
Ages 2-5 years: One hour per day of quality programming/usage
Ages 6 and older: Set appropriate limits on all types of media (television, internet, phone)
Setting limits is where it all starts when it comes to controlling your child’s screen time. While it may be easier said than done, here are some tips:
Set a timer. No matter what age your child is, set a timer for the amount of time they can either watch television or be on a device. Some parents opt for ten minutes, others fifteen. Once the timer goes off, so does the screen.
Designate “screen-free” times. Dinner time should be a major “screen-free” time for children of all ages. Many families subscribe to the idea of “no phones at the table”.
This is also extended for television shows. Dinner time should be a time when families can gather around the table and talk; not be addicted to a screen.
- Lead by example. If your child always sees you buried in your screen, guess what? They’re going to do the same. Children are great imitators. If mom or dad is immersed in their phone or always watching television, then it must be okay. Let your children see you put down your device to play with them or do another activity so that they know there is more to life than screen-time.
- Get moving. When your child is watching a screen or playing a game, they’re sitting in one place, not moving.
That’s why it should come as no surprise that the amount of children battling obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s. Get your kids moving and off their screen. Play outside. Learn a sport. Do something to get their bodies moving. Starting them on a lifestyle of physical activity at a young age is setting them up for a healthy path as they get older.
Some parents look to control their child’s screen time by not offering it at all. This is a personal choice and one that every parent can make for their child. If your child is older, remember, he or she may be exposed to screens through friends, which can pose its own problems.
It’s important to educate your children about screen time and why it’s important for them to have limits. While it wasn’t something our parents needed to be concerned about, it is something parents today need to take into consideration.