Recent research has shown that the post-millennial generation (children born after 2005) is getting up to 35 hours a week of TV, and that is on top of other tablet and phone screen time. That is roughly 5 hours a day, whereas the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends only 1-2 hours daily. But don’t fret, the AAP gives parents advice on how to approach media and entertainment with children. They offer a few tips on how to confidently explore the world of media with family:
Treat media as you would any other environment in your child's life
In other words, set limits. Kids love to know how things work, and they thrive in a scheduled environment. Also, make sure you know what they’re watching – as you would want to know their friends and their teachers. Media has just as much influence on them!
Be a Good Role Model
Make sure that you’re modeling what you expect out of your children. If you limit your child’s screen time, you should follow the same screen restrictions. You can always watch your favorite show or check social media when they go to bed.
Create Tech-Free Zones
Set aside certain times or activities (family meal times or social gatherings) as tech-free. If your child has their own devices, make their bedrooms tech-free as well. That gives children of all ages accountability to your rules.
Apps for Kids - Do Your Homework
There is a cacophony of apps labeled as “educational,” but most do not have much educational value. AAP suggests that you stay away from apps that simply require swiping and clicking. Check out this great list on Common Sense Media for suggestions.
Don't Use Technology as an Emotional Pacifier
There is a temptation to hand your child a device when they have a tantrum or are upset, but it is essential that children learn how to manage their feelings outside of distraction.
Remember, Kids Will Be Kids
Children will make mistakes. They will break rules and push the boundaries, but instead of blowing up – use these times as teachable moments. Make sure that you are following their habits closely, so that you know exactly how to approach the issue.
The best advice I can give is to take it slowly, and explain to your children why you are doing this. Be prepared with tech-free activities to fill the time they would typically spend binge-watching their favorite shows and have fun connecting as a family without any distractions.