In this regard, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued the following recommendations:
- No screen time for kids under 18 months of age except video calling with family. Children in this age learn through physical activity, which is why they should be provided maximum opportunities for that.
- For children aged 18–24 months, parents can introduce high-quality screen time that supplements the child’s learning. It’s important that parents watch this screen time with their children and gear it towards learning and brain development.
- From 2–5 years, children should be allowed an hour of media use every day. Parental supervision at this time remains vital.
- From the age of 6 and onwards, parents should enforce a reasonable daily limit for screen time. It’s also useful to create media-free zones and times in the house.
You might have noticed that after 6 years of age, the AAP doesn’t recommend a specific daily screen time limit. That’s because every child is different and what works for one may not work for the other. As a parent, you should ensure that your child’s screen time isn’t coming in the way of homework, physical activity and real-life interactions. As long as that’s not an issue, it’s okay to let your child have a reasonable amount of screen time.
The Quality of Screen Time
Screen time for kids shouldn’t just be measured in terms of quantity but also in terms of its quality. Understand that not all screen times are created equal. A violent video game makes for low-quality screen time while an interactive game that stimulates cognitive development in your child is an example of high-quality screen time. With that said, if you’re able to make your child enjoy high-quality screen time, then that will be a major plus for both you and your kid.
Remember to supervise all screen time for kids and to vocally appreciate high-quality screen usage.
Effects of Excess Screen Time for Kids
Excessive screen time can cause lots of behavioral and medical problems in kids. To start with, children under the age of 2 can have problems in cognitive development while older ones can show behavioral signs of distress and short temperament. Research has even linked depression in teenagers to excess screen time.
Child obesity may also occur as a result of excessive screen time if it hinders physical activity. It’s your responsibility as the parent to encourage physical play and sports over video games, TV and social media.
Furthermore, screens like smartphones, laptops and tabs emit high-energy blue light which can damage the sensitive retina in the eye and cause vision problems.
How to Supervise Screen Time for Kids
Supervising and limiting screen time for kids is important for keeping them safe from the drastic effects mentioned above. But as a parent, what can you do to reduce and supervise your child’s screen time? Here are some recommendations:
- Preview programs and games that your child enjoys. Anything with violence and indecency should be avoided at all costs.
- Discuss digital safety with your child. Teach your child what sort of behavior is expected on social media and the internet. Tell your children that they shouldn’t send anything via the internet that they would be embarrassed to have leaked in public.
- Explain to your children how ads work and how to counteract in case of an immoral advertisement. It’s best to use an ad-blocker and block these ads in the first place. But educating your child about these ads is important because he or she will inevitably come in contact with them.
- Block websites with dangerous and indecent content
- Explain to your children that some people and organizations steal personal information and sell it to advertisers. Teach them what sort of information they are supposed to expose on the internet and whatnot.
Limiting screen time is even trickier in teenagers. Teens require more freedom and display greater individuality which is why you should allow them a reasonable amount of screen time unless it’s distancing them from their family or reducing their physical activity.