Caring for Kids is a new monthly article series brought to you by the early childhood education experts in Child and Family Care and Children’s Centers.
Managing screen time as a parent can be tough in today's digital world. We all know that digital media can be both helpful and harmful, especially for young kids. That's why it's important to understand the benefits and risks and come up with ways to set healthy limits.
"Recognizing benefits and risks as well as seeking strategies for developing healthy limits can help parents and caregivers of children implement intentional practices,” says Christine Snyder, Director of Child and Family Care. “One effective approach is to start early by removing digital media from shared living and play spaces for very young children. By minimizing the presence of screens in the environment, you encourage alternative forms of play, social interaction, and exploration, which are crucial for their overall development.”
When it comes to very young children, this strategy of removing screens from shared spaces where they play and live can be very effective to prevent early habits of dependency on digital devices. As kids get older, when digital technology may be more necessary or valuable for communicating and learning, it's important to explain why limits are necessary and show them how to have a healthy relationship with technology.
For children of all ages, it’s also important to keep digital devices out of children’s bedrooms. This can help reduce the amount of time spent on devices, allow for adult supervision when using digital devices, and promote healthy sleep practices.
By creating clear rules, setting specific time limits, and having periods without screens, we can strike a good balance. It's also important to lead by example and engage in activities that don't involve screens.
Trust your own judgment and guidance, monitor what your child is watching or playing, and encourage them to explore other hobbies and interests. This may require some extra effort and adjustment, but by making a plan you can help your kids develop a positive relationship with technology while supporting their overall well-being.
Risks and Benefits
- Beyond Screen Time: Help Your Kids Build Healthy Media Use Habits
- Screen time and children: How to guide your child
- Common Sense Media - A Website with Many Resources