Man, being a mom can be tough. Lately I’m having a hard time figuring out how much time to give my oldest on the computer and my phone. He is bored, and it’s too cold to play outside, so he wants to listen to his music or check out websites about people like John Cabot.
When he was a little guy, I read that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended no more than two hours of screen time for kids per day. Screen time includes TV and all other kinds of digital media. I’ve held fast to that rule for almost a decade, and I’m not ashamed to say I relied on screen time to act as “babysitter” when I needed to meet a deadline or make dinner, all the while keeping track of whether my kids had met that two-hour limit or not.
But in October, the AAP adapted their recommendations. Here’s a breakdown:
- For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming programs (just FYI, they’re talking about PBS-type shows here) and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
- For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to one hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
- For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
- Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
- Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.
I don’t know if I can always restrict TV time to one hour per day for my twins—that’s not even enough time for a movie. But the report claims that too much screen time messes with sleep and interferes with time that should be spent playing, studying, or talking—things that contribute to development. So I’m going to do my best.
I wonder, how do you manage screen time at your house? Are you a stickler for a certain daily time limit? Do you only allow TV on weekends?
And how do you monitor your kids’ cruising of the web? I’m so worried about my son seeing something he shouldn’t, and I don’t know the best way to handle it. Any tips? •