Published Date: 07/01/19
Screen time for kids. This is one aspect of parenting that is so difficult because parents are never sure how much screen time is too much. This handy guide will help parents figure out what’s appropriate at any age.
Of course, there are exceptions. For example, children with special needs, such as autism, may benefit from apps designed to help with communication. And typically developing children won’t be screwed up because one day you just needed them to watch six hours of TV so you could get some things done. But, in general, it’s best to follow these guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
● For babies that are 18 months and younger, there should not be any screen time at all, other than occasional video chatting. Screen time at this age is shown to have no benefit and can actually hinder development in the long run.
● For toddlers from the ages of 18 months to 2 years of age, parents can begin to introduce high-quality programming and apps. Children can become familiar with tablets at this age and parents can actually engage with the children as they learn.
● When it comes to preschoolers between 2 and 5-years-old, parents should limit screen time to no more than one hour a day of either TV or tablet, or a combination. Programming should be educational, and parents should do their best to watch shows ahead of time.
● For kids that are 6 years old and older, there are no set daily limits for screen time, but it should be scheduled during parts of the day that don't interfere with their meal times, homework hours, and sleep. It’s important that it not take the place of physical activity or family time as well.
There are many ways that parents can schedule screen time when it comes to their older children using digital technology. For instance, kids may need to unwind after coming home from school. They can use their tablets or other devices during for 20-30 minutes, and parents can set a time to limit use. Once that time is up, tablets go away and children should be helping with meal prep, doing homework, or taking care of chores.
It is up to you if you want to schedule in another block of time for your kids to use devices in the evening. However, keep in mind is that it is not a good idea for kids (and adults) to use screens right before bedtime, as it can get your mind going and make it harder to relax.
If you or your kids are using devices in the evening, it’s best to change the setting to night mode. This prevents the blue lights from being emitted which hinders melatonin production, and melatonin is crucial for falling asleep.
With that said, every family is different, and every parent has their own approach that involves unique rules. Do what works for your family. Some parents may not want their kids to use screens in the later part of the evening, and other parents find that to be acceptable.
Lastly, it’s important to teach kids about the dangers that can come from being online, and parents should also invest in online child protection software, which also includes timers for screen time usage. It can help you manage both the time your children are using their devices and the content they’re accessing.
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