It’s a hotly debated topic – how much screen time is too much? And we’re not just talking about the kids here! In playgrounds and soft play centres all across the world, parents are gazing lovingly at their phones. Here are some tips to minimise screen time for all members of the family.
What is screen time?
Screen time is the time you spend watching TV or DVDs, using computers, playing video or hand-held computer games, or using tablets or smartphones.
Screen time guidelines
The latest guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggest that children:
- under 18 months should avoid screen time, other than video-chatting
- aged 18 months to 2 years can watch or use high-quality programs or apps if adults watch or play with them to help them understand what they’re seeing
- children aged 2-5 years should have no more than one hour a day of screen time with adults watching or playing with them
- aged 6 years and older should have consistent limits on the time they spend on electronic media and the types of media they use.
Experts suggest that too much screen time can cause depression and even affect cognitive development in children. Being mentally present with our children and not distracted by our phones is something all parents can struggle with. However, children do model the behaviour they see around them so if you want your children to limit their screen time you need to show them a good example.
If appropriate have a family meeting to discuss and agree on time limits. Get the whole family on board and decide what fun activity you can do together. If self-imposed time limits are a struggle you can install software on your devices and even manage the devices and family rules remotely.
The study ‘From Growing Up in Australia‘ found that a majority of Australian children are spending more than the recommended two-hour daily limit for screen time. It also found that children who engage in physical activities that they enjoy, will tend to also spend less time in front of screens. So pick an activity that the family can all do together. You could even make it a weekly class like martial arts, yoga or football.
Go for a walk – if its raining get dressed and go puddle jumping.
Get a dog and the family can enjoy device free walkies together.
Do a weekly class together like karate, swimming or dancing.
Go On A Trip
Plan a family vacation but don’t pack any devices. Get off the beaten track and go camping. We have some great hacks here for travelling with kids.
Do you limit screen time in your house? Let us know in the comments below.