How to navigate screen time with your toddler
TVs. Smartphones. Laptops. Tablets.
It’s almost impossible to make it through the day without interacting with some type of digital media — and the same goes for your children.
While we enjoy many benefits from technology, there are also several risks associated with too much screen time, especially for children. These dangers include a decline in social/emotional skill development, an increased risk of childhood obesity, altered views of self-identity and more.
At ParentEducate.com, we provide the highest-quality online courses to help parents raise healthy, happy and successful children. Our ever-growing course catalog covers a variety of topics, including how to manage technology usage.
Here are some tidbits from our Technology and Digital Media course that can help you navigate screen time with your children.
- Set a designated turn-off time.
Sleep is unanimously regarded as one of the most important factors in healthy child development. Studies have begun to show that increased technology usage (especially immediately before bedtime) can disrupt sleep. There are several explanations for this, including overstimulation, exposure to blue light emissions, interruptions to the sleep cycle and more.
With that in mind, our experts recommend that you set a turn-off time with your children to ensure they avoid screens for at least one hour before going to bed.
- Limit television time (especially during meals).
Research has shown a direct link between childhood obesity and television habits. In fact, some studies have pointed to the notion that your metabolic rate declines more while watching TV than it does while resting, meaning that people (including kids) burn even fewer calories while watching TV than they would sitting quietly and doing nothing.
Additionally, watching TV can often lead to mindless eating or overeating, which can add to the risk of childhood obesity.
- Test apps and games before your child plays them.
Take a look at content before your child consumes it to ensure they’re not being exposed to anything inappropriate for their age. This includes violence, drug and alcohol use, sexual content and other types of mature subject matter.
Not only is this type of content difficult to process for young children who don’t have the full capacity to understand what they’re viewing, but it also leads to a missed opportunity down the road for a conversation about healthy habits and responsible choices.
- Keep up-to-date on recommendations as your child ages.
As your child grows, their recommended amount of screen time (and the recommended content they can consume) will change. For example, younger children (aged 18-24 months) shouldn’t use digital devices by themselves at all. Toddlers, on the other hand, are recommended to have no more than one hour per day.