Screen Time for Kids
Screens have become an essential part of our life in the form of television, tablet, laptop, and mobile. Avoiding screen time has become hard for adults and that’s true even more for new parents, because of their busy schedules. Screen time for kids has become a controversial subject because many say screen time can aid your child’s social skills and development.
Others, on the other hand, say that screen time can result in attention, social, and emotional problems. So, the question arises, how much screen time for kids is enough and what should they watch? How much is too much screen time for kids?
Is Screen Time Bad for Kids?
A child’s mind is fertile and learns from its environment. Unstructured play, where your child explores the world around them, develops your child’s brain more than screen time.
Excess screen time can have long-lasting effects and lead to:
- Behavioral issues,
- Lack or delay in social skills
- Attention issues
- Slow learning
- Insufficient sleep
Screens can also be addictive as the screens are designed to draw the viewer in.
What's the alternative?
If screen time has the above side effects, then what helps a child’s development? Children younger than 2 have benefited from unstructured or open-ended play with parents, adults, friends, and siblings.
After age 2, children watching programs with stories, movement, and music may pick up social skills and apply them to situations around them.
Watching shows over the mobile, television, or tablet passively should not replace play-time or reading.
Screen Time Rules
Setting rules around screen time is important for children and parents alike. The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend screen time for children under 1.5 years. Children between 1.5-2 years can be introduced to digital content, but it should always be under supervision. One hour a day is enough for children between 2 and 5.
As children grow, parents should decide how much screen time is enough for kids. Screen time balanced with playtime with friends and family can be the ideal environment for the child’s overall development. Also, ensure that the programming your child watches is age appropriate.
Setting up screen time rules is good for you as a parent because you may want to align your calendar to the child’s screen time. That way, you can be available for play when the child is free.
Tips to Monitor Screen Time for Kids
In the rush to keep the child busy, parents don’t set guidelines around screen time. Let’s look at a few things you can do to ensure screen time accelerates your child’s development and not inhibits it.
- Watch the programs before you let your child watch them. This is a must-do because previewing the programs ensures that you watch for yourself if the content is suitable for your child.
- Engage your child with interactive play instead of giving them the screen. We recommend TV shows such as Sesame Street as it is both educational and has characters with healthy social skills.
- Avoid programs that are fast-paced and difficult to grasp. Fast-paced programs confuse the child resulting in lower self-worth.
- Watch programs with your child when possible. We understand that parents are introducing toddlers to screens because it is an easy way to engage the child’s attention when something needs to be done at home. But watching programs with them will give you the opportunity to ask questions and share observations with your child.
Managing screen time for kids and countering it with unstructured play is important for the healthy development of your child. The more involved you are, the better the bond and healthy development of your child. You may also talk to other parents and how they set boundaries around screen time and media use.