Digital technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, whether we like it or not. Children are increasingly using computers and tablets in the classroom for learning, and parents and teens alike use their mobile devices frequently throughout the day. However, it’s important for parents to set limits in the home, restricting the amount of time that children spend in front of a screen. Here are some simple tips to help you determine how much screen time is right for your kids:
If you find that your child wants to spend more and more time with a device, make the necessary adjustments to reduce their usage. They may have started out only wanting to watch 20 minutes, but over the course of a few days or weeks that can quickly turn into an hour or more. Take the device away, or set up a timer to enforce a strict parental control. Don’t be afraid to enforce the amount of time that you’ve determined is right. Less is always better, especially if your child isn’t using their screen time for a learning activity.
Encourage creative play and relaxation
With younger children, it can be difficult to pry them away from a device such as a tablet. There are so many great apps for kids today, but they cannot and should not serve as a replacement for creative play. Young children have active imaginations and they should be encouraged to use them. With teens, parents should encourage them to enjoy some quite time and relaxation without digital media in the evenings. Make it a family affair, where everyone puts their devices down for a few hours to spend some quality time together.
Take the screen away well before bedtime
Scientists are still learning more about the effects of digital screens on our ability to sleep well, so it’s best to simply remove them early in the evening. In order to help your child have a restful night’s sleep, take their device away at least an hour or two before they go to bed. Keep devices out of the bedroom, instead set up a charging station for mobile phones in a common area of the home. Get your child an alarm clock so that they aren’t dependent on their cell phone.
Remember, every child is different
You know your children best, so you can make the right decision on how much screen time is appropriate for them. You don’t need to follow guidelines set by others, but it’s wise to take the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for young children into consideration. They recommend no more than one hour per day for kids aged 2 through 5. Encourage your kids to play independently, doing creative activities and using their imaginations. With a screen in front of their faces, they’ll be more likely to stay sedentary, preoccupied with whatever they’re watching. Help them out by taking away the option of watching something on a screen.
There are no proven rules to how much screen time is right for every child, but in general, less is better. Keep that in mind when determining how much exposure you’ll allow your child to have to digital media on a daily basis.
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