by Jessica Satkunasingham, MS
When you think about your family and the amount of screen time that they watch, what comes to mind? Do they watch too much? Too little? Just the right amount?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children 18-24 months should only be watching a limited amount of educational programming with a caregiver. For children 2-5 years of age, it is recommended limiting non-educational screen time to 1 hour per weekday and 3 hours on the weekend. For children older than 5 it is recommended that screen time be limited based on the parents or caregivers’ judgement. It is highly recommended that children under the age of 18 months receive no screen time. Now think about how much your family watches in relation to what the AAP recommends, where do you fall?
On a good day in my house my older children fall right within the recommendation. Considering the time they are in school and the amount of homework they receive, by the time they actually get to watch TV, there is only about an hour of free time left in the day. But when it comes to younger children, is this recommendation realistic?
The reason the AAP lists “recommendations” is because they understand that it is not feasible for everyone to follow the same rules. TV, including shows watched on IPADS or phones, is often the only salvation that a busy parent or caregiver has during the day without a paid helping hand. Showers and hot meals are sometimes only possible because a child is allowed to watch TV. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more people are working from home and, in an effort to combat the rising costs of childcare, they are opting to keeping their children home for part of the day. But how do they entertain them without using screentime when they are on conference calls and presentations? They don’t, and that’s okay.
As a parent, the decision to give your child/children screen time is a personal one. No one has the right to judge you for making that decision. If your children are well rounded individuals, and you are able to balance time spent outside, homework, and are having quality family interactions, then trust your instincts when it comes to TV.
Here are some tips to create healthy habits with TV and other screen-time activities:
* Ensure that your children are watching age-appropriate content
In the end, I suggest that parents know the recommended guidlines, speak to other parents or professionals you trust, and then remember to listen to your own parental instinct about what is right for your family.