The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that children under 18 months should not have any screen time whatsoever and children ages 2-5 should have no more than one hour of high-quality programming a day. While many children’s shows are marketed as educational, studies show they cannot compare to real human interactions.
According to researchers from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, language, literacy skills, and self-regulation are best developed through interactions with other people and can be reinforced through high-quality media. But the way your child consumes said media is just as important as the quality of media chosen.
So, what is the best way for your child to utilize screens if you choose to allow them to? Below are some tips.
- Make screen time interactive. Encourage your child to answer questions posed by the characters and to run or jump when told to. Point out things you notice on the screen and encourage your child to do the same.
- Reinforce the lessons being taught on the screen in real life. If you and your child recently watched a show with a social story regarding sharing, bring it up later in the day. Ask your child questions about the show and how they can share like the characters they watched.
- Don’t be afraid of quiet time. Kids don’t need to be busy all day long. Letting your child figure out their own entertainment spurs imagination and encourages them to explore their environment.
As a parent, you shouldn’t feel guilty if you allow your child media time and take a break while they are doing so. Just as adults use television to unwind, your child can do the same.
However, it is important to note that if you want that media to be educational, you must be engaged and building off the foundation the show is providing.
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