Is your child glued to a screen all day? Do you and your child have screen-time battles? Is that something that worries you? Would you be interested in some gentle parenting tips in this regard? If so, read on to find out.
How Much is Too Much?
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) states that “In the United States, children aged 8 to 12 spend 4-6 hours per day watching or using screens, while teens spend up to 9 hours.”1
It is common for parents to begin exposing their children to screens at a young age in an effort to keep them engaged. Multiple factors, such as an important work call, feeding time, or a bored child, could be at play. Digital classrooms are becoming more common and some schools have even replaced text books with tablets, increasing a child’s screen time. While screens can help children stay occupied and learn new things, too much screen time can be harmful.
AACAP recommends that children between 2–5 years should limit their screen time to one hour on weekdays and three hours on weekends, and parents should avoid using screen media for children under 18 months, except for video calls. Healthy habits should be encouraged in children aged 6 and up, and screen-based activities should be limited. 1
Any additional screen time beyond the recommended screen time limit could be considered too much!
Too Much Screen Time Affects Your Child
As was previously mentioned, overexposing your child to screens can be harmful for them. Too much screen time is associated with problems such as eye strain, delayed cognitive development, stunted social skills, sleep deprivation, and an increased risk of obesity.2
Gentle Parenting Tips for Less Screen Time
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents to assist their children in forming healthy media usage habits as early as possible.3 Trying to limit your child’s screen time can be difficult and often results in screen-time battles. So, give these gentle parenting tips for less screen time a shot and see if implementing them can help ease the transition.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
- Plan Your Family’s Media Use: With the rise of digital technology, almost everything we see today is personalized. So, considering your child’s age, health, personality and developmental stage, create a personalized media use plan for your family. Ensure that your child gets a good mix of screen time and other activities with this plan. Furthermore, having a personalized media use plan in place will help you set clear expectations and limits for not only your child, but also the entire family.
- Switch Out Screen-based Activities for Other Fun Activities: This is yet another useful strategy for reducing your child’s screen time. Create a variety of fun activities for your child. Start with simple pursuits like going for a drive, playing games outside, taking a walk in the woods, etc. Let them bring their friends over and have some fun without screens. Furthermore, you could also set up some challenges related to digital detox, with a family outing as the reward.
- Establish Screen-free Meal and Bedtime Routines: Having a set meal and bedtime routine is crucial, especially in the case of working parents. This is where you can spend quality time with your child and bond with them. This is not the time for screens. Establish a screen-free policy during meal and bedtime routines. As a first step, you can set a rule that screens should not be used 30 minutes before meals and bedtime. Make sure this rule is consistently followed without exception.
- Talk to Your Child About Screen Time: If you have a teen child, be sure to have timely conversations with them about screen time. Talk to them about quality screen time, different kinds of content, their pros and cons, the benefits of having quality screen time as well as the negative impact of too much screen time. This will enable them to independently comprehend, regulate, and plan their screen time.
- Walk the Talk and Set an Example: Because children pick up on their surroundings and imitate the behaviors they see, it is critical to set a good example. Plan your quality screen time, set limits when possible, and spend that time with your child. Do this consistently. This can make your child more aware of how crucial it is for them to set screen time limits, and it increases the likelihood that they will gradually cooperate with the transition from more to less screen time, minimizing any screen-time battles at home.
So, the next time your child balks at cutting down on screen time, try these gentle parenting tips for a win-win situation and a fun time together. Visit BYJU’s FutureSchool Blog for more parenting articles.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is NOT medical advice and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, provide medical or behavioral advice, treat, prevent, or cure any disease, condition, or behavior. You should consult with a qualified healthcare professional regarding your child’s development to make a medical diagnosis, determine a treatment for a medical condition, or obtain other related advice.
- Screen Time and Children. (2020). Retrieved November 25, 2022, from https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Children-And-Watching-TV-054.aspx
- How to Limit Screen Time for Kids: 12 Expert Tips | BEACHES. (2020). Retrieved November 25, 2022, from https://www.beaches.com/blog/how-to-limit-screen-time-for-kids/
- Beyond Screen Time: A Parent’s Guide to Media Use. (2021). Pediatric Patient Education. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from https://18andundermd.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/bftk_supplemental_screen-time.pdf
- Nhlbi. (n.d.). Parent Tips: Help Your Kids Reduce Screen Time and Move More. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/downloads/reduce-screen-time.pdf
- Simple Tips for Setting Effective Screen Time Limits. (2020). Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://www.greenchildmagazine.com/simple-tips-for-setting-effective-screen-time-limits/
- Screen-Time Reduction Toolkit for Child Care Providers. (2013) Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://d3knp61p33sjvn.cloudfront.net/2015/04/Screen-TimeReductionToolkit.pdf