Every parent feels the pull, especially with the long days of summer before us, to indulge our children in longer sessions of screen time.
So, what does the research say? Are there guidelines available to help you employ best practices for letting your child have screen time?
The National Association for the Education of Young Children has launched significant research to assess the impact and best use for screen time for young children:
“Researchers are coming to agree: How parents approach media matters. . . .By synthesizing the studies on children’s health, learning, and media interactions, I’ve concluded that we as parents could do the most good for our children by focusing on the three C’s—content, context, and the individual child.”*
In other words, thoughtful screen time is key!
Hear what the experts have to say and consider establishing some of these guidelines in your house standards for screen time!
1. Screen Free Zones
“The AAP recommends that parents establish ‘screen-free’ zones at home by making sure there are no televisions, computers or video games in children’s bedrooms, and by turning off the TV during dinner. Children and teens should engage with entertainment media for no more than one or two hours per day, and that should be high-quality content. It is important for kids to spend time on outdoor play, reading, hobbies, and using their imaginations in free play.”**
2. The Family That Plays Together…
“Parents from across the economic spectrum need to understand that it is their presence and their attention that enrich their children and that one-on-one play is a time-tested, effective way of being fully present.” Invest in “simple, inexpensive toys, such as dolls, jump ropes, blocks, balls, and buckets, [as they are] more effective in allowing children to be creative and imaginative than more expensive toys, which can make play a more passive and less physically involved experience.”***
3. Transform Screen Time
The Mayo Clinic offers these four ways to make the most of screen time:
Plan what your child views. Instead of flipping through channels, seek quality videos or programming. Consider using parental control settings on your TV and computers. Preview video games and smartphone applications before allowing your child to play with them.
Watch with your child. Whenever possible, watch programs together — and talk about what you see, such as family values, violence or drug abuse. If you see a junk food ad, explain that just because it’s on TV doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
Record programs and watch them later. This will allow you to fast-forward through commercials selling toys, junk food and other products. When watching live programs, use the mute button during commercials.
Encourage active screen time. Have your child stretch or do yoga while watching a show. Challenge your family to see who can do the most jumping jacks during a commercial break. Choose video games that encourage physical activity.****
So make your blanket forts, pop your popcorn, setup your video game tournament, and compete on your favorite apps… as long as you are thoughtful, intentional, and restrained your media usage, it is a great tool for togetherness!