By Ivy Bagley
One of the biggest concerns parents have with their children is screen time. This is a hard “habit” to break considering we live in a culture that is very social media focused. Each family must make their own decisions concerning screen time and the appropriate amount of time they wish to spend online. However, there are some guidelines to assist parents in limiting screen time.
The AAP suggests children ages 2-5 have only one hour of screen time per day and this time should be spent with parents co-viewing. For children older than age 6, parents should place consistent limits on the time spent using media. Media should not take the place of physical activity, sleep, homework time, etc. Ideally, all screen time should add up to be less than 2 hours per day.
How do you set limits? How can we decrease the amount of time our devices are “in our face?”
Here are a few tips I have given to parents over the years of my practice. And, many of them are actually good for adults as well.
- Set up media free zones in your home. These areas, such as the dining room, are media free and utilized more for family activities- dinner, game night, family discussions.
- Don’t allow screen time in your child’s room.
- Set the example yourself- if your child sees the TV on all the time for background noise, or sees you on your phone constantly, it sends the message it is acceptable to always be connected.
- Use a Timer or set controls on your children’s devices to limit screen time.
- Keep books, magazines, board games, fun puzzles around for children to do after they have reached their screen time limit.
- Make a list of fun, family activities to do instead of watching TV. These can include a trip to the park, playing ball outside, a family dance off, going to the library, or exploring your own community.
- Eliminate or Limit TV during the week. Host a family movie night once a week instead.
- Educate your child on the importance of movement when watching TV. Encourage them to stretch, run in place, or do jumping jacks during commercial breaks.
- Talk to kids about the dangers of online social media and help them become “situationally aware.” Educate your children on online predators, and work together to set controls and safety rules. Know your kid’s passwords and follow up with them if any issues arise. Always let them know they can come to you with any concerns.
- Formulate a Family Media Plan that is reevaluated yearly as children age. Let your child be a part of the discussion. During this time, educate them on the reasons for certain guidelines.
Remember, screen time includes time watching TV, using the computer/tablets/smart phones, and gaming consoles/handhelds. Watching TV is associated with more snacking and an increased risk of obesity. Together, as a family, you can make healthy life long choices regarding screen time.
Ivy M. Bagley, MSN FNP-C IBCLC
Ms. Bagley enjoys seeing patients of all ages at Children’s Health Services. Ms. Bagley has been a part of the CHS team since 2007. There, she manages their social media, teaches CPR/Baby Care classes, and provides patients with after hours visits through e-visits. She is a board certified lactation consultant who works with breastfeeding moms/babies through office visits and their online breastfeeding support group. She recently obtained a Certificate of Advanced Education in Obesity Medicine and is an active member in OMA, AANP, ICLA, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, and within the community. Recently, she began an online group, “Blessed and Healthy Families,” with the goal of educating families on overall health and well being- with a specific focus on obesity. Ms. Bagley also owns Creative Blessings Photography and serves many local groups through her photography. She enjoys her family and spending time traveling. As a Christian, Ms. Bagley enjoys spending time at the feet of Jesus. Her life verse is “All things work together for those who love The Lord.” Romans 8:28