The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children under two years of age not be exposed to any screen time (source). While that’s obviously impractical for many reasons — how do you prevent inadvertent watching? — parents need to find the right balance so their children don’t become entirely dependent on technology for entertainment.
Encourage children to put down the technology with these four simple tips:
1.) Playing WITH them with their non-electronic toys. You’re never too old to make-believe with your child. Show your child how much fun (even if you have to fake it) it is to play with non-electronic toys that require imaginative play. When your child comes up with his own story line for make-believe, make a big deal of it and praise him or her for being creative. This will encourage your child to engage in more creative activities.
2.) Limit screen time. Get a timer, set it, and stick to it.
3.) Make screen time count by ensuring the programs she is watching and the games she is playing are educational. Sorry, Spongebob, but you just won’t make the cut.
4.) DO NOT GIVE YOUR CHILDREN SMARTPHONES. This one irritates me for several reasons, the biggest being the security risk for the child. No child needs a smartphone. The excuse that “if my child needs to call me in an emergency” doesn’t excuse all the bells and whistles of a smartphone. How many times have I taken my toddler to the park and not a single swing was available because a bunch of five-year-olds had their butts planted on the seats, texting away on their smartphones. How many times have I had to pause pushing my cart at the grocery store to allow a child to pass because he was so engrossed in his smartphone that he wasn’t paying attention to where he was going. Bottom line, kids don’t need smartphones.