Cell phones, computers, iPads, video games – it’s an overwhelmingly electronic world out there, and children – as well as most adults – are susceptible to trinkets and gadgets and all the fun things they promise.
Recent research suggests that children between 18 months and 2 years old should have limited screen time under strict adult supervision. And kids age 2 to 5 should only have up to one hour of high quality program – a show like “Sesame Street,” for example, according to Dr. Pierre Loredo, a pediatrician with Lee Health.
Children under 18 months? No screen time at all, according to researchers and Dr. Loredo, who stress that children in that age group need a chance to develop their social behavior skills.
Here’s some things you can do as a parent to help:
- No cell phones at dinner time: Make your table a place to talk about your day, share funny stories, and just interact and enjoy some good food. Kids and teens who are constantly distracted by messages and videos are learning bad habits and are learning it’s more important to disengage and ignore their surroundings.
- Keep phones and computers out of children’s bedrooms: The American Academy of Pediatrics recently reported a strong link between screen time in the bedroom and sleep loss. And this is big for adults, too. Crawling into bed and immediately staring at light from a phone or tablet can mess with the chemistry and cues necessary to fall asleep on time.
- Remember to set an example: Phones are so fun and addicting! But parents need to remember that they set the rules and, at the very least, can work out reasonable compromises. More importantly, parents lead by example. Put your own phone down at the dinner table. Set aside time after dinner for an outdoor activity. Don’t scroll through your email before falling asleep. Children mimic what they see—so make sure they don’t always see your head bent down to a phone in your hand.
Parents should encourage device-free play time to help children develop social behaviors. Regardless of age, it’s important for parents to limit when the child is allowed to have screen time.
“Remember parental guidance is important. You are the parent so you determine the restrictions,” Dr. Loredo says.
If you would to contribute to Healthy News, please contact us at Social@LeeHealth.org