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Young Children and Screen Time

With all the apps, games, and online videos available today that claim to entertain and educate kids, many parents and caregivers worry about screen time. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children older than two should have no more than two hours of screen time per day. Their definition of “screen time” includes TV, tablets, smartphones, and computers.

Are you concerned about your young child getting too much screen time? Because Wellness is one of My Place’s core principles, we wanted to share some tips to ensure your child’s screen time doesn’t impact their physical and emotional health.

Don’t rely on gadgets to calm or distract your child

If your toddler or preschooler is beginning to melt down while running errands, handing over your phone can calm them quickly. However, this can also teach your child that they need a device to help them relax. Instead, you can help your child practice other ways to regulate their emotions. Some examples include playing a game like I Spy, or encouraging your child to talk about their feelings. Try to avoid using screen time as a punishment or a reward.

You can also help reduce your child’s reliance on screens by giving them something fun to look forward to, such as a visit to the park after you’ve finished at the post office.

Model a good attitude with your devices

Our lives are busy, and our devices are often necessary in daily life. However, try to reduce your own screen time in front of your child, and let your child see you look at your screen for a few minutes, and then put it away. Young children are always looking to parents and caregivers to gauge their own behavior. Your own actions can help your child see that a device is not the most important or exciting thing.

Investigate apps that let you control screen time

Some apps are intended for children, but designed to give parents control over screen time. Investigate apps and games that you can set to turn off after a certain amount of time, or that you can pause remotely.

Enforce screen-free times for the whole family

Creating a regular family time with no devices and no TV will help your child see that screens don’t rule daily life. It’s also a great way for a family to bond. For example, you can have screen-free mealtimes, evenings before bed, or weekend mornings. Spending time together and adding a fun family activity during screen-free times will help your child enjoy this time even more.

With these tips, you can help limit your child’s screen time, allowing them to see that our devices make up just one part of our daily lives.

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