08 Jul The Lean, Mean Screen Machines
For a lot of families, screen time is a regular part of day-to-day life. The technology that we have at our disposal is truly amazing, and the information available at our fingertips is endless. But it’s true that you can have too much of a good thing, and this particularly applies to kids when we’re talking about technology.
Babies That Are Growing Up with Screens
In 2015, it was estimated that the average one-year-old had as much as two hours of screen time every day. Although many apps advertise that their program can help babies learn shapes, letters, colors, and more, there’s no research that backs this up. In fact, the research that has been done proves otherwise.
For children under two years of age, screen time can actually delay language learning. Infants need something called “active play,” which involves moving around and physically engaging with the world (as opposed to the passive play that happens when they sit and watch a screen). Active play helps develop lots of skills, including hand-eye coordination, and lots of concepts, like pretending and building. Because of this, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that parents eliminate screen time (including smartphones, TV, tablets, and computers) for children under two years old.
The Older Kids
With older children, screen time can be beneficial in moderation. If the screen time is purely for entertainment, the AAP suggests limiting this to less than two hours per day. Research has found that too much screen time can be associated with conditions like obesity, aggression, insomnia, and problems at school.
But when it comes to screen time, it’s not just about the quantity—it’s also about the quality. For older children and teenagers, there’s a wealth of information and engaging, educational programs available that can help kids develop skills like sequencing and cause and effect.
Technology is great and can be an incredible resource, but limiting its use is important, too. There are some simple steps you can take to do this. For one thing, avoid putting a TV in your child’s bedroom. Set a “media curfew” where all screens are turned off and plugged in to charge for the night. Try implementing designated scree-free times like vacations, certain hours of the weekend, and meal times.
When the Screens Are Off
As we’ve adapted to the technology that surrounds us in today’s world, it might be challenging to figure out what to do with ourselves (or how to entertain our children) when the screens aren’t there to help. Luckily, there are lots of free activities that can help you and your kids pass the time while also having fun:
- Visit the library
- Go to the pool
- Take a nature walk
- Read a book
- Play tag, Simon Says, or Limbo
Some towns will host events during the summertime or around holidays that are free to attend. You can usually find out about these events on your town’s website.
For more information on the web, visit healthychildren.org or aap.org. If you have questions or would like to discuss any concerns you have regarding screen time, you can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Kathryn Mandal, by calling 817-617-8600 or scheduling online at continuumtx.com.