Do your little ones enjoy watching TV or playing games on their Ipad? In this digital age you may wonder, how much screen time is too much? Is it harmful to a developing child’s brain? Charlotte’s Best Nanny found a very interesting article on this very topic from CNN.
Previously, the American Academy of Pediatrics stated generally that two hours or less screen time per day for children over two years of age was not detrimental to their developmental health. But now, studies are showing that may not necessarily be true. Their new guidelines suggest that two hours of screen time may work for some and not others. Now children ages 2-5 are recommended only one hour of screen time per day. Parents of children 6 and older can determine what is best for them daily and monitor their usage and content. Infants, ages 18 months and younger, are most vulnerable to screens and should not be exposed to any digital media.
During that first 18 months it is vital that children receive direct attention from their parents. When parents are distracted by TV and phone screens that important connection between infant and parent is disrupted. Screen time at that age can also be overstimulating causing distress and sleep problems. It’s best to instead read to your baby or just talk to them. They need a personal connection with their caretaker.
Ages 2-5 you may begin to expose children to screens but it’s only recommended for one hour per day. It’s best if children at this age only watch age-appropriate shows, such as Sesame Street, that do not have over stimulating commercials. “Screen time” is described as digital media used for entertainment. Other uses of media, such as homework is not considered part of that. While TV programs are to be limited, it is completely fine and recommended to use digital media for Facetiming or Skyping friends and family. This can help promote healthy development kids.
For children 6 and older, screen time is not as detrimental to their development. It is recommended though that parent’s teach children to prioritize productive time over entertainment time. Time left over from children’s already busy days can be used for entertainment. At this age, parents should be the children’s ‘media mentor.’ They need to teach children what is age appropriate for them and show them how to use media to connect and learn. Children at this age have an endless amount of apps, video, and content at their fingertips. It’s important for parents to teach children how to behave appropriately online, as well as offline.
With information and studies coming to light, it is clear that screen time should be limited at certain developmental stages in a child’s life. Also, it is vital that parents and professional caretakers model healthy digital media habits.
-Written by Elizabeth