Do you worry about your child's screen time? What about during travel or summer boredom? Dr. Elizabeth Meade from Swedish explains how much screen time is appropriate based on the age of your kids.
For pre-school age kids:
- Remember you are in charge! Toddlers can be like tiny dictators - but stay strong.
- This is the age not to allow too much screen time, in order to start building healthy habits. Try to save screens for video chatting with family or friends, traveling, or other special situations. Kids this age need lots of time for creative play.
- For this age, many devices have timers and the device can only be used for a specific amount of time. This is a great way to set limits without kids trying to negotiate with mom or dad.
- Prioritize other things - Have each child make a list of books they want to read this summer or activities they want to do that they weren't able to during the school year. Plan together which ones you'll do when, and think about what reward a child might get if they complete their summer reading list. Eliminating screen time isn't the goal - making sure you fit in all sorts of other things is.
- Screens come second - try to keep screens off until afternoon or pre-dinner time. Kids are often more energized and more creative in the early part of the day - use that time for physical and imaginative play.
- At this age, all media use should be in the company of parents - in common family areas where you can monitor use and content.
- Getting devices out of bedrooms is a great rule for everyone, but especially for teens. Adolescents send an average of 34 texts AFTER going to bed each night, sometimes hours later. New research confirms that increased electronic media time leads to more insomnia and more depression in teens.
- Some families find that restricting wifi to certain hours (not during the day in summertime when teens may be home alone, or not after 10pm for example) can be helpful, especially with teens who are prone to constant internet use.
- If your teen has a job this summer, great! If not, they should commit to other activities that get them out of the house and better yet, physically active. Volunteering, summer sports, etc.
For ALL ages:
- Walk the walk. Have a family media use plan (link in original talking points email sent) and commit to following it along with your kids. Participate in media viewing together and use it to generate family discussion about important issues. And put away your phone when spending time with your kids - they won't disconnect if you don't!