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How Much Screen Time Is Okay For Your Kids?

I read a long article today on Digg titled Smartphones Won’t Make Your Kids Dumb. We Think.

I’ll give you the synopsis here.

Most scientists agree that we should minimize screen time for our kids before they are 30 months old. The American Academy of Pediatrics says no TV or media entertainment at all for anyone under 2.

Kids on Screens

It’s hard to know the exact long-term impact of technological devices on the development of our children’s brains. But we suspect that overexposure will result in reduced attention spans, language skills and eyesight, especially in the under-five crowd. Too much screen time is also correlated with sleep and eating disorders and obesity.

However, at the same time, we ought to recognize that fact that not using TVs, tablets and smartphones as surrogate babysitters is a matter of economic privilege: Almost impossible to avoid for low-income families or those run by a working-class single mother. And for all economic classes, there’s just the temptation to plop our kids in front of a gadget to give ourselves a little break, for Pete’s sake. Is that so wrong?

What to do?

The article recommends this approach:

  1. As much as possible, use gadgets with your children, rather than just having them go at it solo. Talk about what they see. “Is that a cat? What does the cat say?” Connect objects on screen to the real world – “There’s a ball. Here’s a ball.” Babies always learn better from people than from devices.
  2. Don’t be fooled by the term “educational.” Most supposedly educational apps have no research backing them up, and there’s no government oversight of the term. That having been said, quality content can help bridge the economic gap, teaching kids vocabulary and math. So do your homework and find the apps that have some science behind them.
  3. Make sure interacting with technology is only one of many activities your little ones engage in during the day. They should also play with balls, get outside, have conversations with you, and so on.
  4. Do your part. Put your own smartphone aside, especially during mealtimes and before bed. Interact with your kids. Model the behavior you want to see from them.


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