By Michelle DeWald
The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than two years and recommends limiting older children's screen time to no more than one or two hours a day. As parents and early childhood professionals, we understand that having no screen time is not an option in today’s technological world, but we can control how much and the quality of screen time our child is exposed to.
Too much screen time can be linked to:
Impaired Academic Performance
Less Time for Creative Play
Begin by monitoring your child’s screen time; it might be more significant than you realize. It’s vital that small children move their bodies and actively use their brains to experience the world around them. Find a balance, and set screen time rules. Include your child in making these rules when possible.
Here are some simple steps to help reduce screen time use:
Eliminate background TV
If no one is actively watching, turn the TV off. If background noise is needed, try turning on music instead.
Keep TVs., smartphones, and computers out of the bedroom
Children who have electronics in their bedrooms are more likely to watch and play. Studies have also shown that exposure to blue lights before bed can affect sleep.
Don’t eat in front of a screen.
Turn the TV off during snacks, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Have conversations with your child, tell stories, and discuss important topics.
Make Play Time a Priority
Make a point to spend at least 10-30 minutes playing with your child daily. This creates a special time for you and your child and shows them that playtime and time spent with you are important. Follow your child’s lead!
Research! Make sure it is engaging and age-appropriate
Take the time to research the different shows and games available to children. Watch a few episodes, and see what other parents say and what your child may be learning.
Plan what your child watches
Have a few shows or games available that your child can watch. If it’s live TV, plan to watch when it’s on; if it’s on a streaming app, plan what times they can watch. If you’re working from home, maybe it is when you have a work meeting.
When possible, watch with your child
When you can, watch with your child. Ask them questions and try to make the show more interactive. “Why do you think that character is sad?” and “What do you think is going to happen?”
Encourage active screen time
When a show or game has a song or dance, get up, sing, and move with the characters or during a commercial do exercises. Create conversation and movement to help support learning while watching or playing together.
It can be challenging to begin limiting your child's screen time, but it is worth it! Creating rules and making small changes to your child's routine can help cut screen time and create more opportunities for learning experiences.
If you have any major concerns, please share them with your pediatrician.
You can also ‘Ask Karen’ if you have more specific questions or concerns. Or call or text our Help Me Grow Care Coordinators 844.456.5437