Author: Megan Wenzl
Screens do a lot for us. They help us connect with friends and family, learn, communicate, and keep us entertained.
So as a parent of young children, it can often be a challenge to know how much time your children should be spending staring at a screen. Screens are everywhere — and they are extremely useful for so many things.
You might be thinking, Will allowing your my child to watch her favorite cartoons on Youtube damage her ability to focus? Will she become addicted to technology before she even can speak?
What the latest research tells us is that despite strong opinions on how much screen time is too much, there is a happy medium of screen time for kids. And screen time can even be beneficial.
The Benefits of Screen Time
Not all screen time is bad or unhealthy for your children. Just as it’s okay to give your child a piece of candy during a special occasion, moderated screen time can provide incredibly valuable for your child’s development.
Screen time can be a great way to connect with your child. You can both watch his or her favorite educational show. In small bursts, educational programs can help your little one communicate better and is an excellent time for partner child bonding.
“Just like you would read a book with your child, it’s important to be there during these programs,” according to an article from Pathways.org about screen time. “You can ask questions and engage with your child, such as: ‘What do you think he’s going to do next? What color house is that?’”
Playing age suitable video games can also help improve your child’s hand-eye coordination, which can provide many benefits to them as they grow older.
The Downside of Screen Time
Many experts currently agree screen time can be beneficial to some degree to toddlers when used in moderation. For the first 18 months of a child’s development, the American Academy of Pediatrics (APP) recommends children have absolutely no screen time at all with the exception of talking to family members on FaceTime or Skype.
“When it comes to your child’s early development, it’s much more important to learn human interactions than the newest iOS system,” writes the team at Pathways.org.
The latest research suggests that during the first 18 months, extended screen time can result in the delay of meeting traditionally established developmental milestones. One such milestone includes talking.
Some studies have even shown a possible link between an increase in screen time and additional behavioral issues through your child’s development for toddlers ages 2 through 5.
With nearly 60 percent of children in the U.S spending more than 2 hours a day on screens, parents are rightfully concerned about the impact screens have on their children.
Benedict Carey of the New York Times writes, “Most parents are probably already aware of the biggest downside of screen time: the extent to which it can displace other childhood experiences, including sleep, climbing over fences, designing elaborate practical jokes and getting into trouble.”
Screen Time, With Limits, Is Good
Screen time can be a big part of raising your child in a very healthy way.
Of course, excessive screen time should be avoided. Children should be encouraged to take part in activities that do not involve the screen — like playing games outdoors.
Author: Megan Wenzl