Children are immersed in media from all angles — movies, video games, social media and even virtual reality compete for their screen time. Consumption is unavoidable, but with so many options and a wide variety of content, most parents want to know “How much is too much?”
The American Academy of Pediatrics previously recommended no media for children under the age of 2, and a maximum of two hours for older kids. Last year, the AAP hosted a national conference where 10,000 pediatricians met to discuss new recommendations for 2017.
Here are five (5) quick guidelines for screen time to consider using in your family:
- Unplug for children 18 months or younger. At this age, the AAP recommends avoiding all media with one exception — video chatting. Connecting with loved ones who can’t be there every day can be a valuable experience for young children.
- Allow a little at 18-24 months of age. At this age, some media can have educational value, such as the content offered by PBS or Sesame Workshop. The key is to watch programs with your child so you can answer any questions and discuss the content.
- Limit time to one hour daily for preschoolers. Watching up to an hour of high-quality programming is all right for younger children, but it’s still important to co-watch with your child.
- Set limits for children ages 6 and older. Plan consistent time limits on the time spent using media and the type of media used. For example, preferentially allow screen time during set hours on weekends when it is less likely to interfere with effective homework habits. The key here is to ensure the quality of the programming is good, and that usage does not negatively impact sleep, physical activity or the desire to spend time with friends.
- Create media-free zones. Create rules that put some areas, such as the dinner table or bedrooms, off-limits for using devices. Rules that preserve family time and reinforce safety are key.
Ensuring Health and Safety
Setting limits on media is difficult, and sometimes it’s a process of trial and error. Talk with your children about internet safety, monitor their responses to usage and remember that moderation and parental supervision are key.
Do you have more questions about media and your child’s health? If so, we can help! Simply call 203-661-6430 today.