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Media, Screen Time and Young Minds

Posted on: March 26th, 2019 by The Village Doctor

One of the more common concerns parents have in visits these days is that their child is spending too much time staring at the screen. The trouble is that in reality, we all probably do. In this media-saturated fast-paced digital world where change seems to be the only constant, we hope to be able to support you as you strive to raise your kids in a fashion that is in line with your family values. The American Academy of Pediatrics some guidelines for media limit setting and finding balance (highlights below), but it's also important to acknowledge that modeling "good behavior" is extremely important to decreasing all family member's screen time.

    • Avoid digital media use except video-chatting in children younger than 18 months (preferably 24 months)
    • For 2-5 year olds, limit screen time to 1 hour daily of high-quality programming (avoiding fast-paced, distracting and violent content) and co-view with your children to help them understand what they are seeing and help them apply what they learn to the world around them.
    • Avoid streaming content that you have not previewed or specifically selected and make sure that features like auto-play are turned off to avoid endless, break-free entertainment.
    • For older kids and teens using hand held screens, you can set content and privacy restrictions as you see appropriate. Common Sense Media has useful reviews and resources to help you choose appropriate programming.
    • Turn off televisions and other devices when not in use and avoid using media as the only way to calm your child.
  • Keep bedrooms, mealtimes, and parent-child playtimes screen-free for children and parents and stop using screens at least 1 hour before bedtime

Here are a few tips you can use to decrease your own screen time to model good behavior for your kids:

    • Check in on your screen use and set goals to decrease it as appropriate, most phones will allow you to set limits on certain apps
    • "Go gray"- enable grayscale on your phone to make your screen less appealing
  • Turn on "do not disturb while driving" and make sure to turn this feature on for any teen drivers. Feel free to use "do not disturb" for any period of time that you don't want to be distracted too!

To start the discussion or to create a family media plan, you can use the AAP's online tool. Alternatively, some families find it more useful to manage their family with a parental control app, such as OurPact or Screen Time. Fortunately or unfortunately, we are all in this one together! Please let us know if you have any questions.

Dr. Jackie Phillips