Practical Tips for Managing Screen Time


managing screen timeLike most parents, it’s difficult to navigate this generation of kids with the plethora of screens and devices that encompass our daily lives. Many articles and recent research have found negative impacts on extended screen time on school aged children.

Here’s a few practical tips to manage your kids’ screen time.

As as a mom, a gamer, and a technology enthusiast I can outright admit how difficult it is to manage your kids’ screen time, when you yourself are consuming large amounts of it.

Let’s be honest here, how much screen time do you utilize?

I just did a quick tally and basically the only time I’m not facing a screen is when I’m asleep! I spent 8 hours at work, 3 hours on social media/reading the news, and 3 hours gaming after the kids go to bed. That’s 14 hours, the only time we are screen-free is dinner time!

As you can see, it’s already difficult to curb your own screen time, let alone trying to do this for your kids’!

All, I can do is present you with the facts and provide practical tips on how to manage their usage.

The American Academy of Pediatrics updated their recommendations for screen time in 2016 to recognize the ever changing technological advancements in our society. Here’s a list of the recommendations below:

AAPA Recommendations:

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to one hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  • For children ages 6 and older, 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.
  • Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
  • Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.

Industry leaders are aware of the detrimental addicting behavior and delayed development it may cause kids. That’s right, those folks who create apps, games, and devices do not allow their own children to use the things, that they themselves have created. Some have gone as far as banning all screen time in their homes. Research suggest that the risks far outweigh the benefits – even those learning games and apps. 

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has done a lengthy research collecting data across the world on the impacts of screen time usage on school aged children. Facts are that prolonged usage of screen time (videos, games, and social media) does impact sleep duration. A recent study published in The Journal of American Medical Association Pediatrics link delayed development in toddlers who have been exposed to 2+ hours per day of screen time.

So what’s a parent to do? We can model the behavior we want our kids to have by limiting our own screen time usage.

Don’t use your phone when you are with your kids. Exceptions of course are video chat with family and taking pictures. Teach them the right way to use technology.

Moderation is key. Limit usage and when your kids are playing a learning game or watching their favorite show, participate with them. Watch or play that game with them, engage with them, and ask questions. Introduce a social aspect to something that is not a social activity, like watching a movie. Our family has had lazy days where we’d sit and watch movies with our kids. For example, our current toddler addiction is the movie, Moana. We ask questions like: Is Moana a princess? Do you think she was brave, why? What would it be like if you had a friend like the Ocean?

We also have exceptions for traveling, whether it be on an airplane or long car ride. We’ll usually run a movie or save some PBS Kids shows for them to watch. This is about managing your own sanity, purely for survival sake. If all else fails, shut down that WiFi and send them outside. I hope these tips will help you manage your kids screen time. What works for you and your family?