In today’s world, screen time (for everyone) is increasing drastically. It can be difficult to know what to do for your children in terms of their screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no screen time for children under two (except for video chatting) and one hour per day of screen time for children ages 2-5. For older children, the AAP has a tool for setting a family media plan.
As a professional, I advise you to follow the AAP guidelines. However, as a parent of a young child during a global pandemic, I empathize with you. This past year has been hard. I had every intention of being completely screen-free until at least my daughter turned two. Then enter COVID. My husband and I were working from home full time, without childcare with an active one year old. I hate to admit that we relied on screen time, as I am sure many of you have as well.
With these things in mind, there are ways to make screen time a more positive experience. Here are some tips:
Think About Your Intention
There are now many apps and videos making bold claims about what they can do for your child’s development. We know that young children do not learn language from videos and screens. If you are giving your child a video or app to increase their language, I suggest playing or reading books instead. If you are using a screen to video chat with grandma, perfect! If you are giving your child a video so that you can take a shower, I get that too!
Use Screen Time to Initiate and Model Language
If possible, make your child’s screen time more interactive. Instead of sitting your child in front of the tv and walking away, try to talk to them about what is happening on the screen. Point out things you see. Make connections to your life. I know this can be easier said than done. Sometimes, I’ll work next to my daughter on my laptop and try to work in this language while she’s watching a video.
Here are some examples:
“Moana is going into the water!”
“Wow! Look how blue the water is.”
“Oh there’s a turtle!”
“She’s at the beach. We went to the beach too!”
Use Screen Time for Connection
According to the AAP, screen time recommendations do not include screen time for interaction (like FaceTime) from other more passive types of screen time. When possible, use screen time to connect with family or friends!
Model Healthy Screen Time Habits
Of course, this is also easier said than done! Our kids are always watching us. The less interested we seem in our devices, the less interested our kids will be in the devices as well.
Join My Virtual Story Time!
If your children are craving more virtual connection, join my FREE Virtual Story Time! It will be a short (15-20 min), engaging weekly event geared towards children ages 2-8, but open to everyone! Click the link below to sign up!