Screens are a fact of life for kids and online interactions are part of growing up. Help your kids set healthy limits for screen time so they have time for other things and teach them to digital literacy and appropriate online behavior.
Why you should limit screen time for kids
Regular exposure to poor-quality programming and too much screen time has been linked to:
Not enough time spent learning
Body image issues
Having a narrow scope of interests
Attention and mood disorders
Spending less time outside
Lack of sleep and poor sleep schedules
Delayed development of social and language skills
Screen time limits for children
How much screen time is too much depends on your child’s age and individual needs.
Before age 2, unstructured playtime is more valuable than screen time.
By age 2, children may benefit from some screen time if parents help them understand how they can apply what they are seeing to real life.
Children aged 2-5 should be limited to one hour a day of high-quality programming.
As your child gets older, you will need to decide what approach works best for screen time. Be involved in what your child watches and make sure it is good quality media.
Limiting screen time for older kids
Enough time for homework and extracurricular activities is another reason to limit screen time. Have reasonable and clear rules and limits for older kids.
Encourage unstructured playtime.
Have screen-free times and zones, such as dinner time or one night a week.
Have screen time limits, such as a set limit per day and no screens an hour before bed.
Keep screens out of your child’s room.
Do not let your kids watch TV while doing homework.
Do not have the TV on in the background.
Have your kids finish their homework and chores before they get screen time.
Help kids understand why less screen time can be healthier physically and mentally.
Work with older kids to set their own rules for healthy screen time.
Praise them for following through with screen time limits and acknowledge that it is difficult.
Make sure your child has quality screen time
It is important not only to set screen time limits but to make sure that what your kids are watching is suitable.
Preview programs, games, and apps before letting your kids use or watch them. Watch and play with your kids.
Find interactive options that engage your kids more than passive screen time.
Discuss what you are watching and educate your kids about advertising.
Ask your kids which programs, apps, and games they use during the day.
Use parental controls for internet content.
Teach kids digital literacy
Talk to your kids about content they might see that you have not approved and devices without internet filters. Explain situations that might occur and what your expectations for their behavior are.
Encourage your kids to be critical thinkers about media they are exposed to. Teach them to consider whether everything they see is accurate and explain that media are made by humans with points of view and are often made to send adds to users or make money.
Explain appropriate online behavior
Social media and online relationships are a part of life for teens. Make sure they understand what behavior is appropriate.
Teach them that cyberbullying, sharing personal information, and sexting is not allowed.
Monitor their online behavior.
Set a good example for when and how to use screens.
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