Q: My two-year-old daughter and five-year-old son are totally involved in the digital age. My son loves video games and my daughter is learning to use the apps on my smart phone. I just don’t know how much is too much, and when I try to be firm they beg me till I’m worn down. I worry I don’t set limits as much as I should, but when they’re entertained I get dinner made. I’m confused about what’s right for them.
A: Be mindful about setting limits. Here are some ideas to consider:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommends that children under the age of 2 have no screen time, and after age 2 they suggest limiting it to 1-2 hours a day. Look at your child’s day and think about how much screen time you think is appropriate (including TV). This will vary based on your values and your child’s temperament and development.
- Young children need time for physical activity, fun with friends, unstructured play, family and mealtime, and a good night sleep. They also need your attention and guidance to learn life skills like tying their shoes, and social skills like sharing toys at the park.
- Make a plan, talk to your kids about the rules, use timers and charts, and stay engaged and involved with what your kids are learning. Plan with your parenting partner and be consistent.
- Choose programs and games that are age-appropriate, non-violent, commercial free, and express values that you agree with.
- Take a break from technology. It’s important to reflect on the entire family’s relationship with gadgets, smart phones, TV, and computers. Your kids will imitate you, so be aware of how often your phone is in your hand or next to your ear.
We don’t want to loose the values of past generations when kids played outside and build forts, but these are new times, and we can embrace the wonders of technology if we’re willing to provide a balance for our entire family.
For more information check out www.commonsensemedia.com,www.safekids.com.
Best of luck,
Nurse Rona is the host of Childhood Matters radio show, a nurse for 44 years, a temperament specialist, and mother of four. To hear previous shows, go to www.childhoodmatters.org, and tune in Sundays 7-8AM on 98.1 KISSFM. She is also available to do individual temperament consultations, parent coaching, and workshops.