Balancing Kids' Screen Time

This post is sponsored by Oxford University Press. All opinions are my own.

Admittedly, I struggle with balancing my toddlers' screen time. We had a strict "no screen time" for most of his first year, and then starting introducing kids movies and shows. He was interested in them and it gave us some time to do things we needed to around the house.

My least favorite mechanism for his screen time is the cell phone because it can be difficult to take away from him without causing a tantrum. A trick I've learned to use is to pretend the phone has died and needs to be charged and then move on to his play room, go outside, or partake in an educational activity. Balancing his screen time is something I deal with daily.

What is screen time? How much screen time should kids receive? Is any screen time actually good?
Tech Generation: Raising Balanced Kids in a Hyper-Connected World by Mike Brooks, Ph.D. and Jon Lasser, Ph.D. answers those questions and more. It is a helpful guide for parents to teach our kids how to benefit from technology use while also preventing its negative effects. The authors are psychologists with experience working with kids, parents, and teachers. 

Regarding screen time for toddlers, the AAP advises against screen time for kids under two years. The AAP discourages screen time (other than video-chatting) for children under 18 months. If there is screen time, it is recommended an adult interact with the child during it. Letting them use media by themselves should be avoided because interaction is crucial to kids' development.

For kids of any age, maintaining relationships and in-person communication is important. The pull of technology can hinder those so it is important parents are aware of their kids' technology use and manages it. Therefore, recreational screen time should be kept to one or two hours for kids over two-years-old. Of course, as parents, we have to practice what we preach. That means balancing our own use of technology, which is something I am constantly working on.

Some other helpful tips I learned from Tech Generation are:

  • Turn off ringers and notifications to avoid distraction and constant gravitation to our technological devices.
  • Keep TVs, computers, and gaming consoles out of bedrooms to enable you to best monitor your kids' technology activity and to avoid disruption of their sleep.
  • Avoid allowing your children to become early adopters of new technologies that they are not developmentally ready for, i.e. social media.
  • Do not allow screen time during car rides, though there can be exceptions for long trips, because there is value in quiet time.

If you are at all concerned about your kids' use of technology, you should read Tech Generation. I highly recommend it. I found the book to be extremely informative and helpful. It is particularly timely since we all stay indoors more after summer ends. 

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