Between social media, television, cell phones, and tablets, electronic media have become powerful forces in our children’s lives today. According to a national study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2009, 8-10 year olds spend on average just under 8 hours per day exposed to media – a number which increases to almost 12 hours daily in the 11-14 year old age group. Despite this staggering statistic, this same study found that up to two thirds of children and teenagers have no rules regarding their media use.
It is therefore unsurprising that one of the most common questions our team hears from parents is: “how much time should my child spend in front of a screen?” To answer this question, we have summarized the recommendations put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Try to keep total screen time under 2 hours per day
- Avoid screen exposure for children under the age of 2 years
- Do not allow TV and internet-connected devices in your child’s room
- Keep an eye on what media your child is using (social media, websites, etc)
- Watch movies and shows with your child (this can be a good opportunity to talk about lessons and values we can learn from the media!)
- Establish and enforce a reasonable plan for media use including curfews for mealtimes and bedtimes
Although modern media has been criticized for its sexually explicit imagery, negative portrayal of body image, and the ubiquity of violence, it is important to remember that the media can have positive effects, too. The media is a powerful tool both educationally and socially, and has helped spread prosocial messages and increase access to information- keep this in mind when coming up with reasonable restrictions on screen time!