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Glued to the screen?

By Dina Halaseh , Family Flavours - Nov 27,2022 - Last updated at Nov 27,2022

Photo courtesy of Family Flavours magazine

By Dina Halaseh
Educational Psychologist

 

Spending too much time on screens? Many parents notice that their children are getting more and more attached to their screens and devices. What are the guidelines for screen use?

You might have heard that no screens are allowed before the age of two as well as a few more guidelines, but the new guidelines are a bit more specific. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AAP) divides screen time into four specific age groups:

•0-18 months: Only allow screen time for live video chatting with loved ones as a family. Because they allow your baby to have the kind of back-and-forth conversation critical to language development, the AAP says video chats are okay

•18 — 24 months: For this age group, kids are allowed a few hours per week to watch educational programmes with a parent present. The main idea is for the educational programme to supplement playtime and to compliment it rather than being the main focus where kids are glued to it

•2 — 5 years: Kids at this age are allowed to spend some time on educational screen time alone, but the time spent on non-educational shows should be limited to one hour per weekday and a maximum of three hours during the weekend

•Six years and older: Encourage kids to spend time on hobbies, activities and habits that don’t include screens. More time can be allowed on weekends but the limit remains for weekdays

 

For all ages

•Limiting the use of screens as substitute babysitters or distractions for your child while you get things done. Try colouring, crafts or any other activity

•Avoiding using screens while eating

•Modelling good behaviour; you can’t expect your child to stick to the “no screens” rule if you are constantly on your phone

•Enforcing the ‘no screens in the bedroom’ rule, or at least limit it as much as possible. Kids do NOT need a television in their rooms at all. Also, decrease phone use before bedtime by keeping the chargers in a common area such as the sitting room for older kids or just taking the screens away from younger ones

•Using screens to encourage movement and physical activity, try dancing shows or other educational shows that encourage kids to move too!

•Using parental control

 

We all know how entertaining screens can be, especially for our children, but too much screen time can lead to numerous problems, including exposure to violence, sexual content, unsafe and risk-taking behaviours, predators, bullies and much more.

And the list continues; spending too much time on screens can also lead to sleep problems, a decline in academic performance, poor self-image and many body image issues, weight gain, less reading, less exercising and so on… 

Positive screen time is possible by following guidelines. It is never too early to start with a plan and rules for your family. The right plan for your family may not suit another’s. 

So sit with your child, hear their concerns and comments and discuss how you, as a family, can manage the time you spend on screens and what alternatives exist for them to try!

 

Reprinted with permission from Family Flavours magazine

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