With a whole generation of “TV Babies” evolving into “iPad Babies”, the debate on how much screen time is too much for kids is a heated one, with some wondering if they should nix the screens completely.
Fortunately, you don’t have to raise your child in an Amish inspired, tech free home - you just need to set some boundaries and rules.
The AAP, or American Academy of Pediatrics suggests a maximum of “hight quality programming” for kids under the age of six, but afterwards encourages parents to play responsible and consistent limits on media usage and integrate screen-free family time. But what exactly do those limits entail?
A good rule to employ is o media on weekdays, and a commitment to unplugging at family dinners and the moments before bedtime. Using screens before bed is bad for kids and adults aike. That penetrating blue light is close your your face, which causes a boatload of problems. It delays bedtime and can develops sleep disorders due to drastically reducing overall sleep time and quality.
If you don’t want to use the hard and fast rule of no media five days, limit TV or other screentime to an hour on weekdays, and only after all homework and some physical activity has been completed.
You can also include a fun family movie night on a Friday or Saturday, transforming screen-time into a bonding and sharing experience which is more engaging than zoning out alone.
Of course, designing screen free time as a family like hikes or cabin trips are also essential so that your kids don’t get bored on their downtime and resort to screens.
Try downloading engaging or interactive games and programs rather than encouraging mindless binging on tween Disney programs. Show them how to get creative in iMovie or download educational games which you can play with them. In these ways, limited, responsible screen time with safe, age appropriate limits can actually be beneficial. Download a screen-time tracking app to make sure usage is balanced and kept in moderation.
When boundaries aren’t set in place, poor behavior, withdrawal and lack of interest in social or familial activities can occur. After all, they say routine is one of the most powerful aspect of a healthy child’s lifestyle, and screen time boundaries are just a small part of that bigger picture.