American Pediatric Screen Time Update- How to implement and why it is important
The APA just released new updates to the limits of screen time with children. This update includes limiting screen time to just video chatting until age 18 months, while also paying close attention to the SUBSTANCE of what your child is utilizing a screen for.
Screen time is something that I feel is a vital component in a child’s development, not just from what research suggests, but also from the clinical experiences I have in my own practice.
When working with families, I have seven factors I examine and adjust, and screen time is one of them. I would say in at least 90% of families, the behavior or difficulty we are working on is decreased by limiting and adjusting screen time.
Research has correlated excess screen time to focus and behavioral issues. There have also been a number of studies suggesting the content of violence and images seen by our children can increase aggression.
One of my favorite studies is the Cookie Monster Study, where children were shown a clip of cookie monster waiting, and then presented with a similar situation where they were required to wait. Most children were able to utilize the same coping strategies Cookie Monster demonstrated to wait for their cookie.
There are a number of ways to limit screen time, one of my favorite tools is Circle, by Disney, because the model suggests having a family meeting to agree to parameters, and limiting not just the time children have access to screens, but the content to what they are viewing. This solves the problem of children needing technology for homework, but getting distracted or taking advantage of access to screens.
In my own home, I encourage the education of “brain breaks” and the importance of having a balance with screen time. Screen time is a fun and relaxing opportunity for both children and parents, but it is something that needs to be monitored closely. Make sure you are choosing education programming; PBS is a great channel to turn to. Sit down with your children to be able to have conversations about what they are watching, and make screen time a family occasion- if you have work emails to catch up on, provide a screen for your child with education apps and games. Screens are a great way to make learning fun, but they can also be the gateway to impulsivity, negative behaviors and aggressions if not used correctly.
Let me know how you’re doing. Contact me for a family consultation.
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Healthier Kids – Happier Parents