Screens are everywhere. Parents know it is a struggle to manage screen time for their children. Kids love screens because of the endless opportunities for learning and creating. Too much screen time also creates a plethora of problems. Children don’t self-regulate well and often over-indulge in activities they like. Asking a child to turn off screens can amount to many battles between parent and child.
Research has found that too much screen time for children (and adults) can be damaging. Too much screen time may lead to poor mental and physical health.
What is Recommended Screen Time Use by Age?
The American Academy of Pediatrics provides the following general guidelines:
- Under 2 – None
- 2-5 years – 1 hour per day
- 6-17 years – 2 hours per day
Parents can reduce the harmful side effects of too much screen time by creating a Family Screen Time Plan. Creating a comprehensive plan will help children establish a healthy relationship with screens.
How to Manage Screen Time for Children
Establish a Plan
Set a schedule of when screen time is allowed. Each family has different dynamics so a screen time schedule isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation.
A few things to consider when making a screen time play for your family:
- How old are your children? Younger children should spend less time in front of screens.
- How mature are your children? Older children may be given more responsibility.
- What types of screens apply? Screen time may apply to hand-held devices but not TV.
Your family does best-limiting screen time during the week but indulging more on the weekends. Discuss your plans as a family and find a plan that works for everyone.
Put Away Devices
Set a designated time when devices will be put away. Creating a central charging station in your home ensures that all devices are stored away when not in use.
Make screen time a reward. Schoolwork, chores, and other responsibilities must be done before screen time. Using screen time as a reward may help motivate children to be more productive.
Use Parental Controls
Setting up parental controls on your devices ensures that your family sticks to their plan. Parental controls can help monitor usage, set time limits, block inappropriate content, and more. Additionally, many devices come with “downtime” settings which allow you to disable use during certain hours.
You may also find that using a monitoring app like BARK will help you keep track of your child’s screen use.
Talk to your kids to determine what screen time they value. What are their favorite shows and games? Help them identify what they like about screen time and discuss alternative activities that may meet those needs. If they like to watch videos about dinosaurs, check out dinosaur books from the library
Be A Role Model
Children imitate their parent’s behavior, so if you want your child to have limited screen time, you should also limit your own screen time.