Screen Time Over Summer Break
School is out for the summer, which means more time for fun in the sun … and behind a screen. Our health expert and mother of three, Rose Melendez, RN, offers these tips for parents to help children of all ages find balance in their technology use.
Can screen time affect a child’s health?
Nurse Rose: We’re seeing more and more evidence that too much screen time can have a negative impact on a child’s health, especially with the near-constant use of smart phones and social media. Too much screen time can cause problems like:
- Obesity due to lack of physical activity
- Difficulty sleeping
- Poor academic performance
- Decreased attention span
- Mental health issues like anxiety or depression
The right amount of screen time depends on your child’s age and your decision as a parent about what is appropriate for your family. You know your child best and it’s important for you to set technology guidelines for your kids.
How much screen time is too much?
Nurse Rose: While each child is different, the American Academy for Psychiatry recommends the following when it comes to screen-use including cell phones, computers, tablets and TVs.
- Children younger than 18 months: Avoid screen use except for video-chatting
- Children 18-24 months: If parents want to, watch high-quality programs with your child, such as educational TV shows
- Children ages 2-5 years: Limit screen use to one hour per-day and watch with your child when possible
- Children ages 6 -18: Place consistent limits on media and the types used, ensuring it does not take the place of sleep or physical activity
The Academy offers these additional tips to help your family create a family media or technology plan:
- Designate media-free times together like dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations like bedrooms
- Ensure kids get one hour of physical activity per day and 9-12 hours of sleep per night
- Model moderation in your own media use
- Turn off electronic devices at least one hour before bed time