In this episode of Digital Parenting Live, we cover a viewer’s question on how much screen time should she allow for her 4 year old.
Resources for this episode:
Welcome in to Digital Parenting Live for Thursday, March 29th. And today we’re going to cover a question that we got in from one of our recent workshop attendees, and I think it’s one that’s going to be critical for all parents. Today we’re going to be dealing with one of the most common questions that we get, which is around screen time, and how much time as a parent should you allow. So let’s go ahead and let’s take a look at what the question is for today.
So, “How much screen time should I allow for my four year old? She wants to be on my phone or tablet all the time, and I’m not sure how much time is too much.” So one of the things I want to let you know is recently the American Academy of Pediatrics, they took a look at this issue, because they knew how big it was becoming, they wanted to be sure that they were able to give parents guidance. And again, this is just kind of the baseline. This is, from their perspective, what do you need to do to keep your kids healthy.
So here’s their first piece of guidance. If your child is 18 months or younger, the only screen time that they should have is time that you’re doing just video calling. If you’re trying to do FaceTime with relatives, they said, “Hey, that’s fine,” but other than that, no screen time. Now let me be clear what that means. We’re not just talking on time on the phone or tablet, we’re talking about time in front of the TV, on TV while you’re in the car, as well as phone and tablet gaming devices. They’re saying that’s all you should do up to 18 months.
Now, from 18 to 24 months, they say that you can choose to expose them to a little bit more but only if you’re going to be watching that with them so that you can explain what you’re seeing to them as they have questions, and to help them understand what they’re seeing.
Now, when we go to kids from two to five, now this is the area where most families, this is where a lot of their kids are starting to get on devices more and more, and in this case the American Academy of Pediatrics gives a hard limit. They say you should take all of that time for a given day, in front of the TV, tablet, phone, in the car, and you should say that that shouldn’t go above one hour per day. They’re saying that’s the level at which it can be healthy, if it goes beyond that that’s going to be too much given their age. They also talk about here, you need to put on limits to the kind of programming, and they’re really pushing people towards high quality programming. So think here like PBS Kids, Sesame Street, again things that they’re not going to run into objectionable material.
Now, once they get to six and older they don’t have quite as much guidance in terms of a number of hours, but they do have guidance on a few specific things. First is you need to have limits. So you’ll have to work to understand your kid to know what those limits should be, but there needs to be limits. In addition there needs to be limits on the type of content that they can see, and even beyond that there need to be clear times within the house where those devices are not going to be used. So not only limits for when you can use it, but there needs to also be a period of time where those devices are not used at all.
And so they talk about, one of the things they really lay out here is having media-free times as a family, and this is something you’ll see echoed in a lot of books that have come out recently, like Tech-Wise Family for example. These things are plans that need to be good, they need to be a thing that every family comes up with. So, one of the things that the American Academy of Pediatrics created was what they called a Family Media Plan creator. Now we’ll include a link in the show notes, but you can go to healthychildren.org and you can get there, you can find it and begin to use it.
But what it helps you do as a parent is to guide you in creating a plan. And one of the biggest things that we work with families on when we go out and do these digital parenting workshops is helping them to be proactive. Don’t let technology happen to your family, decide how technology fits in your family and then execute that plan. And that’s what we want to help parents do, because we all are guilty of giving our kids a phone or a tablet maybe more often than we should, and so these guidelines help us know how much is too much.
Now we’ll be talking a ton more about screen time in the weeks ahead on all of our different series as well as in our workshops, so we know this is a topic that you want to know more about, and I’m sure a lot of you have questions, “Hey, my kid’s older than six, what really should the limits be?” And we’re going to be diving into that in the weeks ahead. But just as a reminder, if you have questions be sure to email those questions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be sure that we get through those questions. We’ll try to respond and give you some answers or cover it here on Digital Parenting Live.
So again, we thank you guys for joining us today, and we will be joining you next Thursday for another episode of Digital Parenting Live.