Common Sense Parenting: Children and Screen Time
Screen time is a contentious topic in parenting circles. Are you letting your kids have too much screen time? Are you not letting your children have enough? Where’s the balance? How can you allow your children to take advantage of all the great fun and educational opportunities they can find on these screens without ending up on the bad side of your child’s pediatrician?
Millennial parents are taking a closer look at screen time. So how do these younger parents deal with screen time for their children?
First, let’s take a look at the official recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The 2016 guidelines state that children under the age of two years shouldn’t have any screen time at all, and that they should be strictly limited to one hour of screen time a day.
This doesn’t mean plopping them in front of whatever cartoon is on at the time for an hour, either. The guidelines specify “high-quality” content, which suggests you should be focusing on educational content for these pre-school-aged children.
There are no specific guidelines for children over the age of six — but the AAP does recommend coming up with consistent guidelines for children in this age group.
These guidelines also state that limiting screen time does not negatively affect a child’s mental well-being and that spending time with your children sharing screen time can actually help you improve your relationship with your child.
So how are millennials — who are not teenagers, in spite of what popular media would have you believe — handling this contentious parenting topic?
Millennials and Parenting
Screens are an integral part of modern life. Up to 72 percent of children have used a mobile device by the time they’re eight years old. This isn’t a bad thing though — this focus on technology is actually proving to be beneficial for the new generation. We’ve got the entirety of human knowledge at our fingertips thanks to wikis and search engines, so the focus isn’t — and shouldn’t be — on rote memorization anymore no matter what current school curriculums might be teaching.
Since we don’t need to memorize dates and facts anymore, children are able to spend more time focusing on skills that will serve them throughout their lives such as creativity, critical thinking and problem solving.
Now, we’re not saying these skills can only be learned by spending time in front of a screen. There are plenty of things the younger generation can only learn from running and playing on the playground, like leadership and problem solving, but this isn’t the only place these skills can be learned.
Instead of restricting screen time in favor of other activities, millennials are embracing the screen and using it as a tool to teach their children.
Screen Time Can Be Beneficial When Used Properly
We’re not suggesting that parking your children in front of the computer or television is a replacement for interacting with your children or sending them outside to play. There are valuable lessons to be learned from all of these experiences. But there are also valuable lessons to be learned from screens, too.
Feel free to limit your child’s screen time however you see fit — as we mentioned, there is no negative side effect associated with children spending less time in front of their devices. But there are plenty of things your children can learn from their devices as well, and might overlook otherwise.
Screen time will continue to be a controversial topic regardless of what we have to say on the matter. For our part, we’re choosing to embrace screen time to allow our children to grow and thrive — but we won’t be skipping our trips to the playground anytime soon!
Jennifer Landis is a millennial mom, wife, and is crazy passionate about health and wellness. She writes about it on her blog, Mindfulness Mama. She loves a good cup of tea and enjoys spending her free time running, doing yoga, and watching Doctor Who.