Screen time can be defined as any time your child spends in front of a screen. The screen can be a mobile device, tablet, computer, television or anything else of the sort. Some may discriminate between screen time used for education pursuits and screen time used for entertainment, but you will have to decide where to draw the line based on your child and how he or she is affected. Most definitions of screen time are applied to the use of a device for entertainment purposes.
In our modern world with its multitude of technology, kids are more plugged in than ever. As a parent, you want to let them use their devices and learn the skills needed to keep up with a world that is ever advancing technologically, but at the same time, you do not want your kids to have too much screen time such that it has a damaging effect. Read on for tips and advice on managing your children's screen time.
Age-Based Guidelines for Screen Time
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has identified screen time as time spent on digital media for entertainment purposes. It excludes the time used for online homework. AAP has given these guidelines to allow screen time although the screen time should be individualized for each child.
- 2 years and Younger: No screen time at all.
- 2 to 5 years: up to One hour each day.
- Older than 6 years: No more than 2 hours per day
Symptoms of Too Much Screen Time
There are many ways to know that your child is getting too much screen time and the symptoms are usually very apparent. Your child may have behavioral problems and begin acting out both at school and at home. Social problems may also be an issue as your child stops relating with his or her peers. Kids who spend too much time watching violent television or playing violent video games may also be violent in their real lives. Stimulation from too much screen time, especially certain games and programs can lead to trouble sleeping. Your child may also begin performing poorly in school, as screen time may prevent him or her from doing homework. As your child spends more and more time in front of a screen, the effects may also lead to depression, as he or she is not getting physical activity and social interaction.
Too much screen time can have physical consequences as well. Your child may begin to have trouble with weight issues, as screen time encourages children to be sedentary and not get enough exercise. Too much time spent staring and squinting at a screen can lead to poor eyesight. Down the line, your child can also develop problems in their hands and wrists like arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome.
What you can Do
It may be hard for new parents also to limit screen time for infants. Don’t use the digital media like TV or phone as a baby sitter. Limiting your older children's screen time may be difficult at first, as most kids are likely to protest. If you make a point of substituting fun activities, such as going on a family bike ride or having a family board game night, your children will begin to see that they do not have to rely on a device to have fun. Over time, your child will be less dependent on their devices and may even look forward to time spent away from the screen.
Be sure to check out our other articles on how to monitor your child's health;
- aap.org ( American Academy of Pediatrics)