Monitoring Screen Time for Your Kids

Thursday, March 22, 2018/Categories: Home Internet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The time kids spend staring at screens can be cause for concern, and many parents, childcare professionals, researchers, teachers, and pediatricians are beginning to take notice. Even large shareholders for Apple are insisting that the tech company develop ways to deter the habits of screen-addicted youths.

According to studies, kids between the ages of one and eighteen look at screens between two and seven hours a day. Adolescents are engrossed with screens the most, spending nearly seven hours per day staring at a screen. And infants and toddlers now look at screens more than they ever have before, and nearly one in four has a television in their room.

Continue reading to discover how to best monitor screen time for your kids.

Drawbacks to Screen Time

According to research, too much screen time can lead to:

  • Greater risk of childhood obesity
  • Irregular sleeping patterns and disturbed sleep
  • Interference in learning and capability to learn, and overall cognitive development
  • Problems with social skills and relationship-building
  • Addiction to screen time and overall behavioral issues

Benefits to Screen Time

While there are drawbacks to screen time for kids, there are also benefits to the right amount of screen time and media content exposure.  

  • The right apps and games encourage physical activity and cognitive growth.
  • Kids have access to more learning resources and tools via smartphones and tablets.
  • Regulated screen time allows kids to develop a sense of self-control and personal identity.
  • With some messaging apps, kids can video-chat with family and friends from around the world on their tablet or smartphone.
  • When a personalized family plan is followed, screen time can bring families closer together.

Age Considerations and Developing Research

When monitoring screen time for your kids, it’s important to come up with a plan that’s tailored to the age of your kids, their needs, and the needs of your family.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) once recommended limiting each kid’s screen time to two hours per day, regardless of age. Now, the updated guidelines recommend avoiding screen time entirely for infants under the age of 18 months, and AAP recommends parents co-view only high-quality programming with kids between the ages of two and five to help them interpret what they’re seeing.

But, with kids ages six and older, it gets trickier. The AAP now recommends that parents should:

“…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.” 

Newer research, published in the journal Child Development and conducted by researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute and Cardiff University, revealed that it’s not necessarily time limits placed on screen usage that are important for kids older than two. In fact, they found that moderate levels of screen time (sometimes considered to be higher than time restrictions originally recommended by the AAP) could be linked to increased well-being.

And, their findings suggest that the broader family context, how parents or caregivers set rules about screen time, and if they're actively engaged in exploring the digital world with their kids, are more important than the total amount of raw screen time each kid experiences.

Best Practices for Monitoring Screen Time

According to research, here are effective ways to monitor screen time for your kids.

  • Watch a show or engage with an app first before allowing your kid to view it on their own. Make sure they understand what they’re watching and that some (if not most) of the content is educational.
  • Prioritize time to spend with your kid that’s fun and meaningful where screens aren’t involved.
  • Don’t allow kids to keep devices in their rooms at night.
  • Experience apps, games, videos, and media content on devices with your kids, so that you can engage with each other while they’re looking at their screens.
  • Set a good example for your kids and don’t look at screens all the time.
  • Teach kids appropriate behavior and etiquette online and offline.
  • Use parental controls on certain apps and devices, as well as tools that can help you monitor screen time like Moment, Bark, and Unglue.

Overall, when monitoring screen time for your kids, understand the risks of too much screen time. But also keep in mind that they can gain a lot from screen time if you work with them by engaging them both on and off the screen, and if you empower them to understand the responsibilities that come with screen time, so they can build the best screen time habits possible.

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