Pandemic Screen Time: How Much is Too Much?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many parents have been dealing with a delicate balancing act of having their children home all of the time, working, and doing school work. Being home 24/7 with many activities canceled also means more downtime for kids of all ages. This has many parents concerned that their children are having more screen time, and in some cases, maybe too much screen time. 


When to Pull the Plug on Screen Time


When it comes to screen time during the pandemic, is there a point where parents should unplug and be concerned? Research shows that children’s screen time during the pandemic is growing by as much as 50% to 60% more. For some children 12 and younger, they may be spending as much as 5 hours a day on a screen. 




For years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has called for no screen time at all for children until 18 to 24 months old. Children ages 2 to 5 should get an hour or less of screen time a day. But, these days, that time may be amplified. The guidance for older kids has been to encourage healthy habits and limit screen time.


A recent article in Forbes shared three ways to determine when it’s time to pull the plug. Suggestions include:


Taking Your Child’s Age into Consideration


The younger your child, the less screen time they should be having. As the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, younger kids shouldn’t have as much screen time as older children. All children are different as well. Some children can manage screen time better than others. Some children can stay glued all day if you let them, while others know when it’s time for a break.


Check The Content They’re Watching


There are educational programs, even for the little ones, that can be beneficial compared to watching mindless videos. See what your child is watching and in what quantity. Perhaps you can try to balance their content so that kids are getting more educational value over too much entertainment.





Viewing Hours


We’ve all heard that watching too much TV or having screens before bed is not good for kids and won’t help them fall asleep. If your child is glued to their screen before bed and then doesn’t want to go to bed or has trouble falling asleep, this can be a red flag that it’s time to change the routine. 



Watch Together


If you want to know what your child is watching and if they’re getting any value from it, watch with them. This will give you a first-hand look at what’s going on.





By keeping these things in mind when it comes to your child’s screen time during the pandemic and at other times, you can start to feel better about the situation. Many psychologists are recommending that parents don’t stress too much when it comes to screen time and their kids. While you don’t want your child on it 24/7, you shouldn’t be playing the role of screentime police. These are challenging and unprecedented times that we’re all trying to navigate through one screen at a time.  




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