Tips for healthy screen time
Key messages for guiding children’s media useIn reviewing screen time guidelines for young children in 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics highlights several key issues for parents and carers, including the following:
- Playtime is important. Unstructured playtime stimulates creativity. Prioritize daily unplugged playtime, especially for the very young.
- Set limits. Tech use, like all other activities, should have reasonable limits. Does your child’s technology use help or hinder participation in other activities?
- Create tech-free zones. Preserve family meal times. Recharge devices overnight outside your child’s bedroom. These actions encourage family time, healthier eating habits and healthier sleep patterns.
- Co-engagement counts. Family participation with media facilitates social interactions and learning. Play a video game with your kids. Your perspective influences how your children understand their media experience. For infants and toddlers, co-viewing is essential.
- Role modeling is critical. Limit your own media use, and model online etiquette. Attentive parenting requires face time away from screens.
- We learn from each other. Neuroscience research shows that very young children learn best via two-way communication. “Talk time” between caregiver and child remains critical for language development. Passive video presentations do not lead to language learning in infants and young toddlers. The more media engender live interactions, the more educational value they may hold (e.g. a toddler chatting by video with a parent who is traveling). Optimal educational media opportunities begin after age 2, when media may play a role in bridging the learning achievement gap.
- Content matters. The quality of content is more important than the platform or time spent with media. Prioritise how your child spends their time rather than just setting a timer.
- Curation helps. More than 80,000 apps are labelled as educational, but little research validates their quality (Hirsh-Pasek, 2015). An interactive product requires more than “pushing and swiping” to teach. Look to organisations like Common Sense Media that review age-appropriate apps, games and programs.
Preventing Childhood Obesity: an Early Start to Healthy Living
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