With the rapid growth of technology, parents may find it challenging to manage or limit their children’s screen time. Screen time is free time spent sitting or reclining in front of televisions, computers, tables, and similar screens. Too much screen time is linked to behavioral problems, obesity, irregular sleep, impaired academic functioning, aggression, and less time for structured play. Parents should manage and set limits around screen time and become involved in children’s screen-time use – just as you monitor and engage in other activities. Here are a few tips on how to manage and put limits on screen time.
- Keep Track of Screen Time. Make a daily log of the amount of time your child spends on screens and the types of content he or she is viewing. The quality of the content is just as important as the amount of time spent using screens.
- Set Limits. When it comes to setting limits, you want the limits to be reasonable and attainable. You also want to set limits that are developmentally appropriate for your child. Develop a plan with your family to limit screen time, and discuss the reasons why it is important to set limits.
- Be a Role Model. Try to limit the amount of recreational time you spend on your devices. During the periods when you allow your child to use screens, become more involved by co-viewing, such as playing apps together or watching a television show together. Talking with your child about what you are viewing can help facilitate learning.
- Create Screen-Free Zones. Consider designating certain times of the day as screen-free, such as when completing homework (that is not on a computer), during dinner, a few hours before bedtime, or during family time. You can also designate certain areas of your home as screen free, such as bedrooms.
- Kids Will Make Mistakes. Limiting recreational screen time could be challenging for your child especially if he or she has not had any prior limits set. Most importantly, be consistent and reasonable. Set realistic expectations and, if your child makes a mistake, help guide him or her back on track.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has created a resource you can use to develop a Family Media Plan: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/media/Pages/default.aspx
Screen Time and the Very Young
Television Tunnel Vision
Reid Chassiakos, Y., Radesky, J., Christakis D., Moreno, M. A., Cross, C. (2016). AAP Council on Communications and Media. Children and Adolescents and Digital Media. Pediatrics, 138(5), e20162593
Gingold, J. A., Simon, A. E., & Schoendorf, K. C. (2014). Excess screen time in US children: Association with family rules and alternative activities. Clinical Pediatrics, 53(1), 41-50.