Screen Time Tips
By Sandy Siegman, M.S. Ed.
Why is too much screen time a problem? We need to find a healthy approach to media and technology as this can make a big difference in a child’s life today. Children that learn to use digital technology wisely can accomplish fantastic things. They can learn new skills, explore new ideas, and hopefully change the world. We want to raise a generation of kids who think critically, act responsibly, and interact positively in the digital world.
Social, Emotional and Behavioral Development
Studies show that high media use has been associated with shorter attention spans, hyperactivity, ADHD and aggressive behavior. Researchers have found that children who start watching TV as toddlers and young preschoolers may have a harder time managing emotions and comforting themselves as they grow older. It is also suggested that having TV on in the background is very distracting and interferes with the interactions between parents and children – which is crucial in supporting a child’s social development.
Studies have confirmed that excessive screen time means your child may not be moving enough and this contributes to childhood obesity.
Too much screen time in the evening contributes to less sleep time. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns against keeping screens in children’s bedrooms. The light emitted by screens may delay melatonin release and make it harder to fall asleep. It is also important to monitor the content at night.
Typical parenting rules apply to screen time – set a good example, establish limits, and talk to your child about it. Follow these tips to make your child’s screen time more beneficial:
- Interact with your child as they play an educational game or discuss something you see on a TV show or video. Reinforce what was learned in real time.
- Research games and apps before purchasing for your child. Check out Common Sense Media for evaluating games and apps.
- Schedule plenty of non-screen time into your child’s day. Unstructured play is important for building creativity. Family mealtime and bedtimes are critical times to interact with children.
- Supervise your child using video chat to stay in touch with family or friends that may be far away. Children can practice their social skills by engaging in meaningful conversations with caring adults.