Advanced Pediatric Therapies


Getting a Handle on Screens

It’s so hard to manage.  Parents today may not have even had smartphones as kids and now, bam!  They are forced to reckon with those little glowy things that no kid ever wants to put down.

According to the American Heart Association, kids 8-18 spend an average of 7 hours per day in front of a screen.  7 hours!  This includes time in front of phones, laptops, tablets and televisions.  The AHA also recommends that parents actively limit screen time to 2 hours per day for older kids and 1 hour for kids age 2-5.

apple applications apps cell phone

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on

Why?  There is increasing evidence that kids are spending so much time in front of screens that their obesity rates are increasing, as well as other health indicators such as cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol.  Kids don’t spend nearly as much time outdoors, moving their bodies or in face to face interactions with peers as in generations past.  This is all very worrisome but…how do you do it?

First, start with a media plan for the family.  You can find a link to it provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics here. The newest IOS on Iphone also have screen time monitors on phones that tell you exactly how much screen time each user is racking up.

First of all, you have to model this!  I so often see parents who complain about how their kids are addicted to technology as the parent is texting while they are talking.  You are your child’s first teacher, remember?

Next, find out more about what kinds of apps and games your kids are playing.  Is it all up to your standards?  Educate yourself about ratings and violence.  Some tech companies do not make this easy for parents, but it’s worth the effort.

Do you have times in your family where you do a “digital detox“?  Do you have times where no one is allowed to be on their phones or on screens?

Talk to your kids about screen time.  Set up a family meeting where you can all discuss it together.  This means kids will have opinions which you must listen to, but you may have to override.  In any event, everyone gets a chance to express their opinions but also agree on solutions. Expect some eye rolling from teens, but be honest.  Let them know you will follow the same rules.

Set up an exchange.  So you want a little screen time?  First you have to do your chores, get some exercise or play with your sister.  Make sure the rules are clear.

Most of all parents, remember that sometimes things change (when kids are sick, when YOU are sick etc.).  Try to be flexible and understanding.  These things aren’t going away and we need to try to find a way to live with them in a healthy way.

What helps you set limits on screen time?

Leave a comment »