Here are some tips for setting appropriate limits on the time your little ones spend glued to their screens.
In the past, you had to limit how much time your children could spend in front of the TV. And while that could be something of a challenge to both determine and enforce, things have gotten much trickier with the explosion of “screens” that children have access to today.
Computers, iPads, smartphones, Kindles, PlayStations, Xboxes, and other devices are all competing for our children’s attention. And because devices are the gateway to so many different kinds of entertainment—music, movies, video gaming, face-to-face chats, social media, texting—you have to be aware of exactly what your kids are doing and with whom they are in touch on each.
Of course, screens are not all bad. “This technology does facilitate communication and helps us connect with each other when we are away from home,” says Ellen Lestz, MD, pediatrician at White Plains Hospital Medical & Wellness in Armonk. “There are also many educational programs and games available online that do provide an educational benefit,” she says. “The key is setting appropriate limits, and making sure screen time doesn’t interfere with face-to-face connections with family and friends, and a healthy, active lifestyle.”
Here are a few tips to help you set screen-time limits for the little ones in your life:
- Set ‘No-Screen Zones’. Other than on long road trips, have your kids stay off the screens in the car. Leaving them out of bedrooms and away from the kitchen and dining room table during mealtimes will also help facilitate better sleep and family time.
- Model good behavior. If your rule is no phones at the table or in the bedroom for kids, then it’s no phones at the table or in the bedroom for parents, too.
- Be aware. Unfortunately, many games marketed to kids are loaded with violence, sex and overall bad behavior. Additionally, kids in group chats can be exclusive and not always so nice to their peers. Make sure you know what your child is doing on their screens, and, of equal importance, with whom they are doing it.