limiting Your Kids’ Screen Time
I recently had a friend share with me that he feels rotten when he tells his Kindergarten daughter that she has spent enough time on her iPad. She seems to be thriving, but she also would stay on it for half the day if he’d let her! I relate, because as a parent, I am so very grateful that my son is a gamer, as I can get a solid few hours of online work in when I am in a time crunch, knowing that he will be well-occupied and engaged.
Research reminds us that the overuse of technology delays language development and can disrupt sleep, and when used as a form of consistent babysitting, it poses a disadvantage to the cognitive and social skills recommended for healthful development. Likewise, studies show that we are creating a culture of sedentary children when we do not diversify their activities. That said, setting digital limits for kids entails taking a step back and evaluating how our kids benefit from their log on time and how we chose to help them navigate so many options. It also entails setting boundaries as far as the activities they engage in and how much screen time they engage in.
Is screen time OK for little ones?
The American Academy of Pediatrics repeatedly warns us that screen time for children under the age of 2 is not advised. Recent studies though are showing, however, that while excessive TV watching slightly increased a child’s risk for conduct problems, age-appropriate digital games did not! A 2013 study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood found that certain digital games, however, seem to affect children differently than TV.
Heather Kirkorian, an academic at the University of Wisconsin, reports that while research indicates non-interactive video isn’t always educationally valuable for kids under 3, “some studies suggest that toddlers learn from screens when they are interactive.” Krikorian shares that toddlers “are more likely to demonstrate learning from video when interacting with a contingently responsive social partner on screen.” Her findings indicate that interactive games that foster creativity and participation offer greater value and enrichment for kids as far as helping them reach developmental milestones.
Help kids balance their lives by keeping them active.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also found that American children between the ages of 2 and 18 years- old spend an average of 6 hours and 32 minutes each day using media (television, commercial or self-recorded video, movies, video games, print, radio, recorded music, computer, and the Internet). Parents are smart to take it upon themselves to not only evaluate the quantity of time that their kids engage in such activities to determine how that is working, but it also behooves them to work into the mix physical activities and routines that get their kids up and exercising. Technology can even take a role in that process, which then blends the two for a nice mix.
Empower kids with other choices and time limits.
So how you create a protocol for your princess when she just seems to be having the time of her life online? Professionals, again and again, reinforce parental involvement and typically share three important components to maintaining parental control: Set the ground rules, stay involved and create a distinct boundary that you follow through with.
Rules such as where you kiddo is using her device, at what hours of the day she may engage, and limitations as to when she can be out of your presence sets the tone for future years! Staying involved means engaging with your kid and encouraging her to make choices based on what you have researched and given your thumbs up to. Lastly, keep track of the clock and remind your techie when time is up. For the little ones, it might be a perfect opportunity to take a break, as well, and have a change the scenery. Establishing a time when the family is completely unplugged from the screen and other media is a conscious effort, but has an abundance of rewards. Angry Bird can wait.