Unplug and Create Quality Family Time
The temptation to just click play
As a parent, I understand the challenges of trying to keep a young child entertained. I always try to find ways to keep my daughter from becoming bored. We play games, do arts & crafts, and go to the park. While it is convenient to set up a screen and hit “play”, this approach can produce negative such as sleep difficulties and trouble with face-to-face interactions.
No screen time before 18 months
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding screen time in children younger than 18 months, except for video-chatting with family/friends. Between 18 months and age five, if screen time is desired, it is essential to choose high-quality educational programming. The AAP recommends limiting screen time to 1 hour per day. It is also important that parents watch alongside their children to help them understand what they are watching while trying to apply it to the world around them. For example: when watching a video about counting and numbers, the parent can take physical objects around them and encourage the child to count the toys together. Apply these same lessons later when the child is learning addition and subtraction; the parent can use physical aids such as their toys to assist with counting.
Embrace the “unplugged”
Parents should emphasize “unplugged” playtime and choose interactive games, hands-on learning activities, and physical activities, such as riding a bike or playing at the playground. For those six years and older, screen time limits should be placed, and parents should enforce them consistently. The use of media should not interfere with schoolwork, quality family time, chores, physical activity, etc. Parents should consider “screen-free” times, such as during meals and drives in the car. They may also designate ‘’screen-free” spaces such as in the child’s bedroom. Embrace the precious time you have together with your children. Never let a screen get in the way.
Consequences of screen time
Excessive screen time has been shown to reduce the amount and quality of sleep. It take the place of crucial physical activity. Screen time can also hinder social development and relationships with others. Online safety is also paramount as parents should monitor internet use and have safeguards in place to prevent children from visiting inappropriate sites such as those of a sexual or violent nature.
By: Eric Lesko, FNP.