Sometimes nothing seems easier at the end of a long, hard day than popping in a movie for the kids, and basking in the peace & quiet. We’ve all been there – a terrible day at work, the kids’ inability to agree who gets to be which Paw Patrol character, a silent waiting room, the 10-hour road trip to grandmas – screen time is often the 21st century parent’s go-to, for obvious reasons!
But do you know about the risks associated with early visual media usage?
Based on numerous studies, screen time has been linked to everything from obesity, increased rates of aggression, to sleep degradation. The less exposure to visual media (games, television, movies, etc) that a child has, the better they tend to score on assessments of social skills, impulse control, organization/planning, delayed gratification, emotional intelligence, and memory.
On average, children under five are viewing screens for 4.5-5.5 hours per day; but considering that most in that age group are awake less than 12 hours a day – screens represent more than 45% of their waking hours.
This age group is particulary vulnerable to the negative effects screen time produces – and new studies have shown that ‘for each 30-minute increase in handheld screen time [for youth under 2…], there is a 49% increased risk of expressive speech delay’.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends zero screen time for children under two, and two hours of high-quality material for all children above; further guidelines are:
- For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
- For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
- For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
- Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
- Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.
These guidelines are of course the gold standard for a child’s health, but they might not be realistic for all of us, every single day, or any day! Included below, are some of our favorite resources here at SpeechRighter, for educating yourself on media-effects, and learning how to help make your home more media-healthy.
- Media & Young Minds | American Academy of Pediatrics
- Media & School Aged Children (5-18) | American Academy of Pediatrics
- Resources for Screen Free Parenting – Including fun guides, alternative activity ideas, and more.
- Common Sense Media | Great parent & educator resource for great media sources for kids, how to make media healthier for families, common caregiver concerns, and more.
Common Sense Media | Healthy Media How-To’s