Limit and Monitor - Young Children’s Electronic Media Time
Is screen time for your young child okay? How much media should your child watch? Media is an intricate part of American childhood. Your child and her friends spend more time in front of the screen (TV, VCR/DVDs, video games, computers and Game Boys) than a generation ago. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 30 percent of children under age 3 have a TV in their bedroom as do 43 percent of children between 4- to 6- years-old.
There are good reasons for this:
- Your child likes watching programs or playing games.
- You like the possible educational value. You want your child to learn from a computer, and educational TV designed for young children.
- TV shows, VCR/DVDs, video games and computer activities distract your child and may give you a much needed reprieve.
However, research about brain development shows that media time is altering the brain circuitry in young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics has linked too much screen time with obesity, language delay, inactivity, aggression and decreased attention spans for infants and toddlers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics actually discourages screen time for children ages 2-years-old or younger. They also recommend that children over 2-years-old view media no more than one to two hours per day, including media time spent watching DVDs, in front of the computer and playing video games.
It is important to be aware of the time a child spends using the media while in child care. A pediatrics study found that 70 percent of family child care homes and 36 percent of child care centers had children watching television daily. Children in family child care homes watched TV an average of 2.4 hours a day, compared to 0.4 hours in center-based settings.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents balance screen time to help their children’s development. Specifically:
- Do not have any screen time for children younger than 2-years-old.
- Limit screen time of all media to less than two hours a day for children older than 2-years-old.
- Do not let your child watch TV while doing homework.
- Do not put a TV in your child’s bedrooms.
- Encourage interactive learning – children learn through play, whether it is imaginary or real, playing with others or playing with a parent. Playing sets a foundation for cognitive development.
- When children are in front of the screen, monitor what they watch. Let your children view educational, nonviolent programs or games. Limit their viewing of commercials. Remember that young children are not able to tell the difference between real life and a show.
For More Information:
Common Sense Media has parental advice on managing children’s media.
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