The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two years old have no screen time, and that older children are limited to one or two hours a day. We followed the stricter guidelines suggested by Zero to Three of no screen time under two, a 30 minute daily maximum from two to three years old and an hour maximum as children are older. The idea around these guidelines is to consider them for your family. Stop and think, how much time do your children spend interacting with screens? What are they watching or doing during that time? How do you measure the educational value of programs? How do you follow-up to what they viewed?
Here are a few basic guidelines to help reign in screen time:
- No screens in their bedrooms – 30% of three year olds, 40% of six year olds and 60% of 10 to 14 year olds have TVs in their bedrooms. This is related to more viewing time per day, more consistent weight gain relative to peers and higher rates of sleep issues.
- No screens during mealtimes – Children who are watching while eating tend to over eat. They are not learning to listen to hunger and fullness cues because they are distracted by the screens. This habit is tied to later childhood obesity.
- No screens on playdates – This should be an easy one, but encourage them to be social when their friends are over.
- Track it for a week – To determine if your family is at a comfortable level, start by tracking it for a week. Jot down how much time everyone in the family is on screens.
- Find a way to be clear – I have known families that pass out half-hour tickets on weekdays and hour tickets on weekends. The idea is once the ticket is gone, their screen time is done. This makes the expectation and the use clear for all. When my girls were in elementary school, we had the simple rule of one, 30 minute program each day, and once it was over it was over.
- Save screens in the car for long trips – If your child is on a screen in the car while you run errands, they may be above the recommended limits just by travel time.
Join me for a valuable discussion about why to limit screen time, the impact on developing attention span, academic readiness and obesity. This will include information about background media, reading on screens and guidelines about deciding on the quality of children’s programming. My workshop on Screen Time will be on June 18th from 7:00-9:00 p.m. For more information and to register, please visit http://www.eventbrite.com/o/parenting-by-dr-rene-parenting-playgroups-283710166?s=1328924.