Technology continues to change at a rapid pace and children now have many ways to access that technology. As a parent, I too have fought the battle of determining how much screen time (not just TV time, but including tablets and phones) to allow my own 7 and 9 year old children. We have decided to try to stick to about an hour a day. I have also heard the argument that they are giving them educational apps to increase the time, but I wonder how much they are actually learning that they will apply outside of the game to real life? No matter how you spin it, nothing replaces the interaction between you and your child. I can’t cite the exact research but I have heard it referenced several times when reading various articles that so many more connections are made in a child’s brain when they are interacting with an adult versus playing an app or watching an “educational” show. My advice, just use technology with caution. I like the analogy that they use below of thinking of technology like cake.
Here is the monthly message from the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood:
Screen time is not “bad.” Consider it like cake. Kids may enjoy it but caregivers are mindful of when to offer it and how often. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding screen time for children under 2 and limiting screen time to 2 hours a day for children 2 and older. The guideline exists because research shows children learn best through experiences in the real, physical world. This allows children to have plenty of back and forth adult interactions and exploration experiences like touch and taste. While children can learn from watching something on a screen, until a child is 2 years old, their brains have a hard time transfering that knowledge into real life. Also, it takes more repetitions to learn an activity on screen versus in person. Limiting screen time ensures children have enough time for physical activity to reduce the chance of childhood obesity. You can, however, turn screen time into a more positive experience for your child. Research shows that making it a “shared” experience allows learning to take place. Viewing age appropriate content with your child offers a nurturing and emotional element while talking about what you are viewing makes it a language-rich experience.
Take a look at the following tips from Zero to Three to help enhance your child’s future screen time.
View content together. Talk about what you are watching, ask
questions or take turns while playing games.
•Act out what you are viewing. For example, if a kangaroo is hopping
on TV, stand up and hop too.
•Make connections between what your child sees and real life. Ex.
“Remember how Charlie tried a new food from the market? Would
you like to try this kiwi?”
•Avoid leaving the TV on in the background when you are not
watching. It distracts children from play and reduces parent-child
•Avoid media before bedtime. It makes it harder for children to fall
•Choose educational programs where the characters ocassionally
speak directly to children and ask them to participate in some
way. Shows with strong storylines that are not fast-paced are
recommended. (Ex. Arthur, Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street)
•Limit your screen time and mobile use when children are present.
Kids are drawn to whatever adults in their lives are interested in.
•Focus on the story and less on the interactive features.
To learn more about the
research on screen time, visit