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Dec 19

Screen Time and Kids

Posted on December 19, 2016 at 4:55 PM by Christina Stuck

Recently, AAP changed its recommendations for screen time and children, ages 2-5 years old. When I first glanced at the changes, I didn't really give it much thought. They lowered the daily screen time limit down from 2 hours to 1 hour. But, when I started to consider how often my son spent time using a screen, I realized he normally goes over this 1 hour limit. My husband and I also do not use digital media in the manner AAP recommends, that is, to engage in the media with the young child.

Basically, we use it as a babysitter while we get things done.

My son's screen time is mainly in the form of watching a few PBS shows a day. While I know it is best for me to sit with him and talk about what's going on during the show, I just don't have time to do that. But, when I read AAP's recommendations and see what other parents do to occupy their children while they get things do, I instantly get mommy guilt. I don't really worry about my son becoming a mindless lump, but I think of everything he could be doing instead. That gets me.

But, his life is balanced. He doesn't just sit in front of a screen all day. He plays by himself and with others, he paints, he colors, he threads beads together, he jumps around like a loon, and he hears stories and looks at books.

Carisa Kluver shares in this great article called Parenting in the Digital Age how she approaches digital media use and her son. She visualizes the discourse she has with her child as a triangle with the three points being balance, quality, and engagement. Before the child can use a particular digital media device, it has to meet all 3 factors. If it is missing just one, then he can probably use it. If it is missing two, then it is a no.

After considering this model, I feel better about my son's use of digital media. He watches it in a balanced way. They are high quality shows. And while I may not always be there to engage in it, the shows do provide talking points when I over hear certain situations or if my son decides he wants to act out the shows.

Our children's generations cannot hide from screens and digital interactions. It's nice to know that we can help them develop healthy habits in regards to them. I hope you consider your family's use of digital media. Even if it is not to every tittle and iota of AAP's new recommendations, do be mindful and intention with what screen time your child uses.