How Much Screentime is Too Much Screentime for Small Children?
Between the number of televisions, computer screens, laptops, tablets, and smartphones in each home, screen time can creep into each aspect of an adult’s life without a thought.
Whether parents are watching the news or their favorite sitcom, searching for dinner recipes, or scrolling through social media platforms, the screen time they are subjected to can amount to hours — and hours — each day.
If adults cannot quickly calculate the amount of screen time they absorb each day, can they accurately gauge the amount of screen time their young children are exposed to?
Even when parents keep a close eye on their kid’s digital intake, how much screen time is too much?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting children ages two and up to no more than one or two hours of screen time a day.
Here is how to make their time in front of the screen as valuable as possible.
Make Your Child’s Screen Time Engaging
When parents create a plan for screen time use, they should start by understanding the parental and privacy controls associated with the digital content they will be consuming.
Once it is physically (and virtually!) safe to begin enjoying their allotted screen time, parents should remain involved in their kids’ gameplay.
Watch your kids play digital games, so they can ask questions and talk about what they see, including challenges and rewards, so both you and the kids know what to expect from the game, and how to expand on what it is teaching them.
Encourage Active Screen Time
Just because children are playing digital games on a smartphone or tablet does not mean they must be sedentary.
Choose video games that encourage physical activity or reward their learning with dances that allow them to move around in between levels.
Supplement their screen time with creative in-person games that are inspired by their digital games and the tasks performed therein, simply by asking how the characters move or what they learned while playing.
All parents should understand that a child’s total screen time might be greater than they realized, or that on some occasions, like long car rides or airplane trips, lend themselves to longer than recommended screen time.
Do not beat yourself up about it. Sometimes it is not simply about screen time, but the value of its use.