Maybe you've heard that the American Association of Pediatrics has revised their rigid screen time recommendations for children in favor of somthing a bit more, er, realistic.
Previously the recommendation was no screen time for children under the age of 2, and after that to keep screen time to 2 hours or less per day. That old recommendation emerged in 2011, before the iPad 1st generation was even launched and since then we've had a landslide of other tablets and apps created specifically for children.
Technology changes in the blink of an eye, or about as fast as it takes my 2 year old to figure out child proof locks. These days, most toddlers know their way around an iPad long before the age of 2, iPods are pretty standard and come with built in wi-fi, and most tweens and teens (and their parents too) have smartphones glued to their palms at all times.
It is what it is, right? The same way I can't imagine my life without DVR and GoogleMaps is the same way your kid won't be able to imagine life without their smart phone, iTunes and Instagram (or whatever's coming along next).
The AAP's new approach toward screen time has more to do with managing the quality of time spent using technology and recognizing that parenting strategies apply the same to screen time as they do in any other environment.
- practice responsible usage yourself
- monitor and curate the different apps and platforms your kids use carefully
- set limits
- teach accountability
- engage together
The above bullet points are just a few highlights from an article published on the AAP News website, and truthfully I think they really nailed it so make sure you give it a read.
I especially liked this part:
"Content matters. The quality of content is more important than the platform or time spent with media. Prioritize how your child spends his time rather than just setting a timer."
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Fighting with kids over screen time is one of my least favorite things to do in large part because I have always felt guilty about my kids turning into potentially brainless media obsessed drones.
But the thing is, they won't, because I'm an involved parent and I pay attention.
They're still really active kids. They know how to use their imagination and most of the time will pick playing outside with friends over Minecraft any day. We're pretty selective about the kinds of apps our kids play with and I don't even put games on my phone anymore. After my 3rd iPhone took a swim in the toilet, I finally learned my lesson... We make it a point to get outside as often as we can and I regularly enforce screen free days throughout the week.
And yet, an iPad app is helping my 5 year old learn his letters, my 7 year old is learning strategy and problem solving on a different app, and my two year old has already figured out the pass code so I guess their brains aren't in any immediate danger of disintegrating.
These recommendations are more in line with what we've been doing at home already and that makes me feel like we're on the right track. They may even manage to grow up and become responsible, contributing members of society. Fingers crossed!
My kids are still fairly young (my oldest son is 7) so I'm interested to hear what the parents of older kids have to say on this topic.
How do you stay on top of screen time for your kids, teens and tweens especially?
How do you tackle social media use and at what age did you let your kids venture out online alone?
(Truthfully? I'm a little bit terrified of that!)
Talk to me, Goose! It's all gonna be okay, right?