Think about standing in a very long line at the grocery store. Do you reach for your phone to browse your text messages and photos? How about when riding as a passenger in a car, are you tempting to check Facebook? These urges to be on our devices are strong as adults who have a sense of etiquette, can you imagine why we need to have limits for our children? Children developmentally don’t know the benefits and disadvantages of technology to their social emotional health. It is up to us as parents to be their advocate and provide healthy limits of screen time so that they have a balance of human interaction and game time.
As a parent, I look first to the American Academy of Pediatrics current recommendations. For 2017, recommendations suggest the following:
Among the AAP recommendations:
- For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
- For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
- For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
- Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
- Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.
More information: American Academy of Pediatrics current recommendations
Then I take those times and make adjustments for our own family. For example, two hours of screen time for our children is WAY TOO MUCH during Monday-Friday. Our oldest daughter doesn’t get home from school from past 4:30. We start our bedtime routines around 7 and 7:30. If I give her two hours to be on her tablet, or watching a show, that leaves me with just one hour to interact with my child during a time when they need our love and guidance. So for our family, we have a limit if one hour TOTAL (any type of screen whether it be a tablet, television or family computer) during the week and we give a wee-bit more time on the weekends.
Other problems that are coming up with technology are discussed in length in this article:
- first phones-at what age and what kind of phone?
- using technology for homework
- family time and technology
- social media-the good and the bad
- bedtime and screens
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