During routine checkups, parents often ask what pediatricians at 24/7 Pediatric Care Centers think about their children watching TV, using tablets and phones and playing computer games. With so much written in media sources about the pros and cons of computer use and “screen time,” it’s no wonder people are confused!
We here at 24/7 hold beliefs in line with the latest recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Generally, those guidelines urge parents to flex their parenting muscles: Take charge. Set limits. Balance screen time with face time and family interaction. Make sure your children are also involved with other activities like sports, hobbies, friends, and family. Monitor content of the programming to ensure what they watch is of high quality.
At the same time, the Academy sticks by its guns on children under the age of two. For them, television and other entertainment media should be avoided during these years of rapid growth when learning occurs best by interactions with people rather than screens.
Here are a few practical pointers for achieving screen time/people time balance in your home:
- Set up “screen-free” zones in your child’s bedroom and at the dinner table.
- Limit entertainment media use to one or two hours a day for children older than two years.
- Check out ratings systems for shows, movies and games to guide you in determining what content is appropriate and what is not.
- Talk with your kids about the entertainment media they are watching. Use the time as an opportunity to teach them about ways advertising works, how movies and cartoons are made, or what entertainment was like when you were young.
We welcome the chance to discuss use of entertainment media in your home during your visits with 24/7. We are parents too and have many of the same concerns you do about our children and the digital world!