More and more parents are using media to entertain their children while they manage the day-to-day needs of their families. Breaking the screen time habit is difficult for both parents and kids.
Children spend less time sleeping than they do in front of a TV, computer monitor, and cell phones. Recent research shows that children's overall screen time is more than seven hours a day. Lack of sleep and overuse of media that involves screen time are linked to obesity, attention problems, and sleep disorders. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours of screen time for children over the age of two and no screen time for children under the age of two.
Some parents will roll their eyes at the AAP limits, while others remark, “Two hours that is impossible! I need an episode of Dora the Explorer in the morning just so we can get ready for work!” Here’s are four easy steps to help you child cut down on screen time, or at the very least, get closer to the AAP recommended two hours.
Go Slow. Cut out one hour of screen time per day for a week for everyone. Reward your child during that hour by doing something fun.
Centralize Media. Move all screens to a common family space. It is easier to monitor and less tempting for your child to stick to their old habits.
Establish Time Limits. Help your child choose the times they would like to use their cell phone, computer, video game or watch TV. Use a timer. When the bell rings screen time ends.
Be a Role Model. Limit your own screen time along with your child.