Screen time for children is a hotly debated topic. Some parents worry that their children are spending too much time in front of screens and not enough time interacting with the real world. Others feel that technology is a necessary part of life, and they want to involve screens from a young kids as they want their children to be comfortable using it from an early age.
So, how much screen time is appropriate for children? How to guide them to the most appropriated way to use screen media? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It depends on your kid's age, temperament, and interests. This article will give you general advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as well as from world health organization (WHO) on how to set screen time rules for your children.
Introducing screen time guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
According to the AAP, children aged 2 to 5 should have no more than one hour of screen time per day. For children aged 6 to 18, the AAP recommends no more than two hours of screen time per day. This screen time limits includes all kind of media use; time spent using televisions, computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices. The AAP recommends these limits because children's brains are still developing, and excessive screen time can have negative consequences. Children who spend too much time in front of screens may be more likely to:
- have trouble paying attention
- have problems with social interactions
- suffer from sleep deprivation
- have problems with obesity
- have child development issues
- have mental health issues
How to set screen time rules for your children based on their age and interests
It is important to set rules for your children's screen time. As mentioned earlier, "Screen time" doesn't just mean watching television. It also includes using computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices. These rules should be based on your child's age, temperament, and interests. Some general tips to keep in mind:
- Establish a media curfew: Set a specific limit screen time each day when all screens (including televisions, computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices) must be turned off.
- Place screens in common areas: Keep screens in public spaces where they can be seen and monitored by parents. This will help to discourage your children from using them behind your back.
- Make screen time contingent on other activities: For example, allow your children to watch one hour of television for every hour they spend playing outside.
- Have screen-free zones: Establish certain areas of the house (or even the whole house) where screens are not allowed. This can be a good way to encourage your children to engage in other activities.
- Set a good example: Parents should lead by example and limit their own screen time.
The AAP also recommends that parents talk to their children about the content they are watching. This can help children to develop critical thinking skills and understand the difference between fantasy and reality.
It is important to remember that technology is a valuable tool, and there is no need to completely ban it from your child's life. The AAP recommends that parents use technology to their advantage, as a way to further their children's education and interests. There are many educational and entertaining apps and games available that can help children learn new things. You can have a look at Common sense media which is an organization that provides education and advocacy on screen time for children. Parents should be selective in choosing which apps and games their children use, and they should monitor their children's screen time on playing video games and using apps.
It's important to remember that these are just general guidelines. You may need to adjust them depending on your kids's age and interests. The most important thing is to have rules in place and to be consistent with them. If you allow your child to exceed the recommended limits one day, don't let him do it again the next day. And make sure that screen time is not the only activity your child participates in.
Tips for parents who are struggling to limit their child's screen time
If you're struggling to limit your child's screen time, here are a few tips that might help your parental controls:
1. Talk to your child about the dangers of too much screen time:
Excessive screen time can lead to sleep deprivation, obesity, and other health problems. It's important for children to be aware of these risks.
2. Establish rules and limits:
As we mentioned earlier, parents should establish rules for screen time. These rules should be based on your child's age, temperament, and interests.
3. Place screens in common areas and eliminate background tv
Keep screens in public spaces where they can be seen and monitored by parents. This will help to discourage your children from using them behind your back.
4. Make screen time contingent on other activities
For example, allow your children to watch an hour of television for every hour they spend playing outside. Physical activity is an important factor to keep your child healthy.
5. Have screen-free zones
Establish certain areas of the house (or even the whole house) where screens are not allowed. This can be a good way to encourage kids to engage in other activities.
6. Get your children involved in other activities - Encourage physical activity
Children who are involved in any physical activity (including sports, music, and art) are less likely to spend time on screens.
7. Try an app or software that limits screen time
There are many apps and software programs that can help parents limit their kid's screen time.
8. Talk to your paediatrician
If you're still struggling to find a way to limit your kid's screen time, talk to your paediatrician. He or she may be able to provide some additional tips.
Why doctors are concerned about too much screen time?
The medical community has long been concerned about media usage by children, and this dispute could never be resolved. Doctors say the most important thing kids don't do on screens is move. The WHO has identified a big problem with the use of screens as an energizing tool. Therefore they suggest restricting use of the devices until children develop healthy habits that do not involve watching TV or watching videos.
What about video chatting with family? Do these count as screen time?
Video conversations are regarded as exceptions to TV time by many viewers. Unlike television time that isn't interactive – or viewed alone – children learn to interact in a safe and caring environment. This program was particularly helpful because COVID restricts children to a remote location. Make sure you maximize their interest during these fun and informative talks.