We’ve all heard the stories, read the research and know that we’re probably kidding ourselves that our kids only watch twenty minutes of educational television each day. If you’re getting it right, I deeply congratulate you. If you’re like me, there are some days that your kid doesn’t watch television at all (usually during the week), and there are others where she takes to the couch for hours on end (sometimes, on the weekends).
But two news stories that I’ve read brought up the screen time debate for me again, so I’ll tackle it today, and highlight a few guidelines for you that hopefully you’ll find helpful:
Be the Example
We know this, all too well – children learn from what they see, not from what we tell them. While we may be vigilantly counting the seconds that our children spend in front of screens every day, what are we doing ourselves? Most of us, including you, reading this right now, spend a good proportion of our days in front of our work screens. Then we go home and we’re looking at our phones while watching television. Don’t worry – we all do it – it’s called the second screen, and it’s something marketers are picking up on, quickly. But that’s not my point here – my point is, if you’d like your children to spend less time looking at screens, put your phone down and spend less time in front of a screen too. But, lastly, ditch the guilt a little, please parents. You are doing the best you can right now, I believe, and I’m pretty sure your kids agree with me.
Kids and Screen Time Guidelines
When it comes to guidelines around screen time and children, the American Academy of Paediatrics’ set of rules is most often referred to. They’re currently updating their guidelines though, and possibly changing their rule, removing the “no screens before the age of 2” one. That one used to level me, guiltwise, when I think about how my daughter grew up knowing that, when the Sewende Laan theme song played for the second time on TV (ie. Just before 7pm), it was bedtime. She is ten now, and I swear if someone plays that tune, she will immediately start putting on her pyjamas.
But the AAP symposium messages had other great things to say, and you should read them. These were the three that spoke to me the most:
What are your family’s rules and guidelines around screen time?