Most of us and our children spend a lot of time every day on devices like tablets, smartphones, and laptops, etc. There can be a lot of good information and fun activities online, but too much time on devices can also have negative consequences. Excessive media use has been associated with aggression, behavior issues, obesity, lack of sleep, and problems in school. The beginning of a new year is a great time to set some media goals and guidelines for your children. Here are some tips from The AAP on setting a media guideline plan for your family.
- Keep screens out of bedrooms. Set a media curfew where phones are in a different location for the night.
- Limit screen time to less than 1 or 2 hours per day.
- For children under 2, substitute unstructured play and human interaction for screen time.
- View the programs and apps your child is using. Talk about your family’s values and standards. An app that is rated for kids doesn’t necessarily mean it is free from inappropriate ads or content. Be vigilant and an active part of your child’s screen time.
- Look for activities and programs that are educational and set good examples for your kids.
- Be firm about not allowing any inappropriate content viewed on screens. Watch ratings and read reviews on all apps and games. If your teenager is using social media, be an active part of their account. Follow or friend them on social media sites so you can be a part of their social media experience.
- Talk to your children about the dangers of the internet. Make sure they understand the things they do and say on the internet cannot be deleted. Warn them about predators and strangers who might try to interact with them online. Teach them not to engage with strangers and to never share personal information. Talk about online bullying and treating people with as much respect online as in person.
- Have screen-free zones such as at mealtimes or family events. Turn off the TV when it isn’t in use instead of keeping it on in the background.
- Don’t use technology as a pacifier or babysitter. Children need to know how to deal with emotions. Encourage them to find ways other than technology to calm down.
- Remember kids will be kids. Handle mistakes or errors in judgement with empathy and try to use those mistakes as teachable moments to help them do better next time.
Media and digital devices are going to remain a part of our everyday lives, and some of the benefits and knowledge that can come online can be great. Remember that face-to-face interaction plays an even more important role in life for everyone of all ages. Playing with your kids and encouraging play dates and in-person social activities are great ways to help your kids have less screen time and more time with friends and family. If you want help creating a family media plan, you can get started at https://www.healthychildren.org/English/fmp/Pages/MediaPlan.aspx.
At the Pediatric Center, we want to give you and your child the best information and treatment you can get. If you are noticing any issues related to screen time or any other matter, please don’t hesitate to call your doctor at the Pediatric Center. You can contact us at our Idaho Falls location at (208) 523-3060 or our Rigby location (208) 745-8927, to set up your appointment.
Some content provided by healthychildren.org