The irony that a parent would be reading this online to discuss children and screen time is not lost on me. Yet, as a mom, I understand the preciousness of time and how reading online saves some for me. I may not have to sit still at home with a magazine or book but I do have a moment to use my smart phone to access text in the form on an article that a friend may share with me. A few years ago I realized that the students at my school had never grown up in a world without smart phones and that the cell number I currently have is older than they are. (I just checked and I’ve had the same number for 15 years!)
Little Pickle Press offers books for children on learning to be safe everywhere including screen time.
So, when it comes to screen time for children I am acutely aware as a mom whose own kids grew up in the changing landscape of the tech world. We got our first Nintendo game in 1991 when my eldest son was born and his older sister liked playing it until he got old enough to want to play games of no interest to her. We got our first home computer in 1997 and by that time all of my children were old enough to find something to occupy them if I let them have that screen time. Oh, how I wish that Cool Mom Tech was around when my children were younger to help weed out the good and the bad in terms of technology.
Mind you, parents tend to see the potential harm in too much of anything and when I realized that, if left unattended, they would play online all day. One of my earliest rules involved leaving the game consoles out at all times but turning myself into a rental center: all video games stayed in my bedroom under lock and key and if they wanted to play Mario Kart, for example, they had to check it out from me much like a library or video rental store.
What is the right amount of time, then? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics children shouldn’t exceed more than 2 hours of non-school-related screen time each day. Now, if your child is on the spectrum and part of their therapy is learning facial recognition for social purposes, that isn’t included. First, however, let’s define screen time as defined by the National Library of Medicine:
“Screen time” is a term used for activities done in front of a screen, such as watching TV, working on a computer, or playing video games. Screen time is sedentary activity, meaning you are being physically inactive while sitting down. Very little energy is used during screen time.
Much of what is written about screen time is related to physical health and the effects of sedentary actions (like increased body fat and hypertension) and that’s why I monitored it so closely while also realizing the benefits of having something in their hands like a Game Boy while I tended to other things. It’s a constant battle that parents fight that calls into question how their children are faring. If he plays a game, I can get the shopping done. But, will he ever know how to behave without having a tech distraction?
Last November Nickelodeon reported that children born after 2005 watched “an average of 35 hours of television per week” which translates to about 5 hours each day. While this seems to be a scary statistic, I am all the more appreciative of the purposeful parenting I also know is happening. As such, I leave you with a few helpful articles about screen time with research-based data:
Children and TV: Limiting your child’s screen time (by the Mayo Clinic)
What rules do you set for screen time in your home? How is your purposeful parenting technique helpful to your children? Give us some tips to share with parents!