Screen time. In today’s connected world, there are more and more reasons to experience screen time. Screens are so prevalent, it’s hard to avoid them altogether. Having children only complicates the matter—do you find yourself wondering what the right amount of screen time for kids is?
Your children are likely living a very different childhood from the one you had. Balancing the good that screen time may bring, with the importance of other activities, can be hard. If you’re trying to figure it all out, here’s what you need to know about screen time—both the good and the bad.
Your child’s age will shape the kind of screen time they’ll be exposed to. Frequently used screens include:
If you have elementary school-aged kids, remember, they’re likely encountering screen time at school as well. From television viewing to educational apps and smart boards, screens are now rampant in the school setting.
Your job is to make sure your children are accessing the positive components of technology without exceeding the recommended screen time for kids.
Before you throw out every electronic device you own, it's worth noting that screen time for kids isn’t all bad. In fact, screens can provide a great opportunity for learning and development. Recent studies indicate that learning can be more effective through games and play-based activities.
If your child is watching high-quality television programming, they’re likely experiencing interactive storytelling. This can also encourage learning processing to take place. Just make sure your child is staying within the recommended TV time for kids based on their age.
It’s no secret that hand-eye coordination can be improved through the use of video games. Educational programming is readily available and can help your child learn while providing entertainment. Used appropriately, there’s no doubt that screen time can be an asset to your child’s development and their childhood experience.
Along with the good does come some bad. This is what can happen if your child is exposed to too much screen time.
Many people focus on the non-physical implications when they talk about too much screen time. The truth is, there are real repercussions for the physical body when you spend too much time with screens:
The physical ramifications for too much screen time are very real. There are also important non-physical ramifications your child may experience if they have too much screen time:
Screen time doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. Limiting screen time can enable your child to reap the benefits of using technology without experiencing the drawbacks.
Now you know more about both the good and the bad that can go along with the use of technology and screens. Knowing how much screen time is appropriate for your child can help you strike the balance you’re looking for.
The right amount of screen time for kids will depend on their age. Generally, the younger your child is, the less screen time they need to be experiencing. Here’s the breakdown of how much your child should be spending focused on a screen according to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Limiting screen time can be a daunting task. It is doable though, and the results can be incredible. Puzzles, board games, card games, and arts and crafts projects are all great alternatives to screen time. Having your child be a part of the selection process can leave them feeling more agreeable to the limited screen time.
While planning your little one’s exposure to screen time, remember to keep in mind that all screen time is not created equal. High quality, learning-based programs and games should always be chosen over lower-quality options. This can help ensure your child’s exposure to screens still remains productive and moves beyond basic entertainment.
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to remove screen time from your family’s life entirely. But you can follow these tips for successfully using screen time for kids.
We’ve created a world where we’re constantly in touch and tapped into everything that’s going on. There are many good things—and many bad things—that go along with that. The one inarguable piece is that children are exposed to more screens, for a longer time, than they ever have been before.
Understanding what your ultimate goals should be for screen time for kids can help you make wise parental choices. These choices can help set your child up for the success you know they deserve and can achieve.
Ryan is a co-founder of SmartParentAdvice. When he isn't spending time with his wife, Cristin, or his two children, he can often be found running around on the tennis court.