I’ve always liked to think that compared to the standard American family, my family is pretty low on screen time. The average 8-10 year old spends 8 hours in front of a screen each day! That’s quite frightening when you consider most kids are probably only awake for about 12 hours.
Why is so much screen time a negative thing?
Too much screen time has been linked to obesity, problems in school, lack of sleep, and behavior problems such as aggression. I haven’t come across any links yet that say this but I’d also link it to lack of concentration or being easily distracted. I know this is the case for myself! I used to be able to watch a movie without doing anything else… now I am constantly scrolling through my phone while I’m watching a show. So much for my concentration or willingness to part from social media.
How much screen time should a child get?
The AAP recommends no more than 2 hours of screen time a day for kids. If the child is under the age of 2, then they recommend absolutely no screen time. Granted that is hard to do if there are older siblings. (Note the AAP is now tweaking things bit since screens are much more popular than they were when they issued the above recommendations.
Thankfully, I’d say that my kids fit the AAP’s recommendations. They watch about 1 hour of tv (netflix) while I’m waking up and making breakfast. Then the older kids can play 1 hour of video games in the afternoon (the younger kids usually watch them play). We did just get an iPad mini and my kids are now getting a few minutes each on it for educational purposes. All in all, they get close to 2 hours per day generally, but of course there are days when mama just needs a break.
However, I’m still not quite happy with how screen time affects my kids. They are good kids but I can already see that they are addicted to screens and my oldest is only nine! They love watching shows and playing games. If an adult came over to visit, they’d ask to play games on their phone (we had to have talks about how we like people for themselves and not their phones). So I decided to try out a few new rules.
Rules for Limiting Screen Time
1) No screens right after you wake up
This one was already in motion I guess but it will be good for when my kids get older. Currently my kids play quietly in their rooms for about an hour before they get to come watch their morning show.
2) Social settings are screen free
This means no asking to playing games on other’s phones. No jumping on a relatives iPad the second they come over. After all, we are hanging out with these people to be with them, not be with their electronic devices!
3) Once a month is screen free day
This is our newest rule. Our hardest rule. On the 1st of every month, our family goes screen free. No morning shows, no afternoon games, even mom and dad stay off their computers and phones. Yes, this one is painful but it helps us get back in touch with life.
4) No screens in the car (unless on vacation)
I’ve thankfully always told my husband that we shouldn’t get a movie player for the car. He was always mentioning it for vacations and while I know it would be handy then, I also knew that if I had a movie player in the car, we’d start using it on short trips too. So once again, this is an easy rule for us. However as the kids get older and perhaps get their own personal screens, I will definitely make sure that the screens stay out of the car unless we are going on a long vacation.
5) Bedrooms are screen free
There was once a time when a television in a kid’s bedroom was unheard of. Now it seems to be common practice. We’ve never had the excess funds to even think about putting tv’s in the kids’ rooms and I’m glad. However, this rule won’t stop with just televisions. As my kids get older, I’m going to keep all of their phones, computers, and handheld games out of the bedroom too! Why? Because if they are going to use those screens, I want them to be where I can monitor them to make sure they aren’t getting into trouble and to limit the amount of time that they are on. As a bonus, keeping screens out of their rooms will help limit EMF exposure.