Let’s face it, media is a part of our lives whether we want it to be or not. The use of technology is everywhere, in stores, restaurants, even while you are driving because cars are now equipped with DVD players and Wi-Fi which brings me to my topic for today’s post, how much screen time should a child be exposed to? Screen time can mean exposure to television, cell phones, computers and tablets and don’t forget about those video games. There is no doubt that children can benefit from technology. As a physical education teacher I can attest to that. In learning a new skill or concept nothing helps children more than to see an image projected upon a smart board or whiteboard.
Technology has been integrated into the classroom in many ways such as the use of the internet to complete class projects. Using laptops and tablets students work in pairs or groups to explore topics like the weather, where they learn about hurricanes and earthquakes. For Social Studies they research various countries and cultures, you get the idea right? Children are exposed to media on a continuous basis that’s why monitoring screen time is important.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, screen time means the time spent using digital media for entertainment reasons, homework or anything related to school doesn’t count toward screen time. In comparing the old guidelines to the new ones here is what I found:
- No more than 2 hours of screen time for children over 2.
- Infants 18 months or younger should not be exposed at all.
- 18 months to 2 – introduce the digital media with quality programs and parents should watch the program with their child to help them understand.
- 2-5 years old – 1 hour of screen time per day.
- Children 6 years or older parents should limit their digital media time and monitor it wisely. It should be a combination of physical activity, social interaction as well as the proper amount of rest.
The best way to deal with the issue of screen time is to come up with some type of media plan. If you don’t have one you can create your personalized media plan: www.HealthyChildren.org/MediaUsePlan. I think most households have this in place, its things such as designating certain places in the home as media free, one place is the dining area, this gives families an opportunity to spend time with each other. Parents often discuss with their child the dangers of online safety and appropriate behavior and it is addressed in school as well. Now this last one I know we all have been guilty of at least once or twice, don’t use media as a way to distract or occupy children or as a means for parents to have time to themselves.
But wait there is good news, while the experts recommend that the 2 to 5 year old get one hour a day they encourage Skype or Facetime, which is kind of cool because you get to interact with friends and relatives and its right there at your fingertips. The new changes to screen time seems to be a good thing, it attempts to ensure that kids don’t spend too much time being inactive and that they are not exposed to the digital world too soon.