Limiting Children’s Screen Time
School is in session, which means the days and nights of gaming, chatting, and watching videos online are limited. School schedules, set bedtimes, homework, and extracurricular activities are now the norms. Setting screen time limits might be a little more complicated than parents realize.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following screen time guidelines for children:
Children under 2: Avoid all screen time for children younger than 18-24 months old, except for video-chatting or time co-playing with parents on apps after six months.
Children ages 2-5: Children ages 2 to 5 years should have no more than one hour of screen time of high-quality, educational content per day.
Children ages six and older: Establish personal screen time limits that ensure that media does not interfere with sleep, exercise, or other healthy behaviors.
Potential negatives of too much screen time include:
Irregular Sleep patterns
Lower school achievement
Here are tips parents can use to decide how much screen time is reasonable for their kids.
1. Be a Role Model
Constantly binge-watching your favorite TV show or scrolling through your phone all the time may not be modeling the screen-related behavior you hope to see in your kids.
2. Be Tech Savvy
Parents must stay updated on the latest apps, games, and social media platforms. You can't teach your children the risks of social media unless you understand the dangers yourself.
3. Create Technology-Free Areas
Making family meal areas a phone-free zone is an easy way to start. Additionally, keeping TVs and other video devices out of the bedroom.
4. Be engaged.
After school or work, spend time each day talking face to face with your children and give them your full attention.
5. Explain Why You're Limiting Screen Time
If kids understand why you limit screen time, they will likely follow the rules. If your kids think you are "being mean," they might be more likely to resist or break the rules you are trying to enforce.
6. Be Realistic
Start by setting smaller, more attainable goals. Instead of jumping to the recommended one to two hours or less per day, start by cutting their current screen time in half.
7. Encourage other Activities
Get your children involved in activities that don't need a screen. Playing outside, reading a book, or even digging out an old board game are just a few ideas.
Carmen Phillippi, APRN-CNP
Comanche Family Care