The Screen Time Balancing Act
The appropriate amount of screen time for children has been a hot topic of conversation for years. Now, with so much of children’s socializing, learning and entertainment accessed online, parents are adjusting their screen time rules to adapt to the new normal.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding screen time for those under 24 months, with the exception of video chatting, and allowing no more than one hour a day for children ages two through five. For all other ages, the AAP guidelines focus on healthy concepts of digital use and citizenship. Even though your children may be spending more time in front of a screen, the basics from the AAP remain the same.
Guide your children to appropriate content. Whether it’s an app, website or television show, know what your child is viewing. Sit down together and create a list of approved screen time activities. Even better, watch or play with your child to share your experiences and answer any questions.
Set screen time limits. While the right amount of screen time may vary among children, a schedule is helpful for all. Set aside a specific time of day or certain amount of time for your children to watch the latest YouTube unboxing or play games. Avoid screen time before bed so it doesn’t interfere with sleep.
Understand that not all screen time is equal. Participating in distance learning or connecting with friends and family by video chat is more productive than zoning out while watching a television show. In today’s world where opportunities to socialize are limited, the benefits of face-to-face interaction are a positive result of screen time.
Educate your children about online dangers. As children spend more time online, it’s extremely important to talk to them about the dangers of the internet. Children should be aware of online bullying and the potential for internet predators, including how to spot these behaviors and what to do when they see them. For teens in particular, parents should emphasize the importance of protecting their privacy while online.