Let’s face it, we have all been there. As a parent it can be really easy to hand over a phone, tablet or turn on the TV just to get a few moments to clean up, ride in the car in peace and quiet, or have an adult conversation. Media devices are everywhere and we rely heavily on them. In fact, if your child is under 12 years old, they most likely have grown up in a household with a smartphone and tablet at their fingertips. While there are certainly wonderful benefits of having smart devices, there are also downsides. One downside is the negative impacts that they have on children which can range from poor sleep quality, increased risk of obesity, and even behavioral issues.
This past month the World Health Organization published guidelines for screen time. These guidelines closely mirror the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics which were published in 2016. In summary, children under two should have zero screen time, and children two to five should be limited to an hour per day.
You might be reading these and thinking – oh man, I really messed up on this with my oldest kiddo, or geez, there is no way that I could ever really meet those. In a perfect world we would love to have all of our patients meet these guidelines, but we also know that there is no parent or parenting situation that is perfect. At Our Urgent Care we recommend that our parents strive to do their best each day. We stress progress over perfection and understand how hard it can be to follow the recommendations. But by taking a few small steps you can make a big difference over time.
Here are some really simple rules that can help to put you on a path towards less screen time and more human interaction.
- No screens in the car
- No screens in the bedroom
- No screens at the table
- Set aside 20 to 60 minutes per day to play, take a walk or a bike ride
- Set aside 20 minutes to read with your child
If you simply put these rules in place for one week in your household, you might be amazed at how much more time you have for face to face interaction. Here is the hitch, you will also need to adhere to the guidelines, which could be even harder than keeping the kiddos off of their devices.