Screen time: How much is too much?

Child development experts recommend balancing active and interactive play

Screen time limits: three kids share a digital tablet on the couch.

If your home is like many others, you might find that your child is very familiar with electronic devices like TVs, tablets and smartphones. And, like others, your child might want to use those devices a lot, too.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents place limits on the use of any media:

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting.
  • If you want to introduce digital media to your children 18 to 24 months of age, choose high-quality programming, and watch it with your children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
  • Children ages 3 to 5 years old should have no more than one hour of screen time each day.
  • Children ages 6 to 12 years old should have no more than two hours of screen time each day.

While many children’s shows are marketed as educational, studies show they cannot compare to real human interactions.

Other tips for setting limits:

  • Make playtime a priority
  • Set up tech-free times and places, such as mealtimes, in the car or in the bedroom
  • Have daily and weekly screen limits — consider no screens one hour before bed
  • Use apps that automatically shut off devices after a certain amount of time
  • Keep screens out of the bedroom — TV, tech, charging time
  • Limit your own screen time

What’s the best way for your child to use screens if you choose to allow them to? Below are some tips.

  1. 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.
  2. Reinforce the lessons being taught on the screen in real life. If you and your child recently watched a show with a 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.
  3. 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.

For kids of all ages, screen time should not replace time needed for sleeping, eating, playing, schoolwork and having fun with family and friends.

Managing your child’s use of screens and media will be an ongoing challenge. But by developing household rules — and adjusting them when needed as your child grows — you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

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Posted In Children's, Healthy Living, Parenting