The Case For Limiting Screen Time

With the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, computers, video games and television, children are naturally exposed to a wide variety of screens at a young age. Parents are often stunned when their 15 month-old can ‘swipe’ to find an app, and most parents have quickly come to realize that these devices have a mesmerizing effect on children.

In an ideal world, children should have zero screen time until the age of three. Those little pixels actually rewire small children’s brains and may impair social communication, alter ability to pay attention and affect a child’s attachment to family members. Kids this age need to have many sensory experiences and develop language abilities and social interaction. Screen time interferes!

Between the ages of three and six, children can be introduced to technology for an hour a day, but with parental supervision. Don’t just give your child a tablet or smartphone as a sitter, or as a reward for good behavior. Instead, encourage them to play with toys or assist you in household chores. Encourage your children to play outside and make it possible for them to get messy at times. Playing with your children helps them develop the emotional bond required for developing the essential social and emotional skills we talk about so often here at Curly Clues Club.

From ages six to nine, it is important that recreational screen time (whether it be in front of an video game console or computer) should be shaped by family bonding experiences. Active video games, and use of the Internet with supervision, are fine as long as your child has other activities such as school clubs, sports or other pursuits that help develop social and emotional skills . Make time for family outings and games during these years. You will create a family bond that will last thru the teenage years. Treat your family as if it is ‘gold’ and treasure the times you spend with your children.  

It takes planning and discipline for parents to resist the ease of just handing kids’ a tablet or smart phone. When you go to a restaurant or on a long car ride, be creative in thinking of family games or discussions that can replace screen time. Arrange adult time, so that you aren’t using screen time as a babysitter. You will find that your children will respond to your desire to interact with them and will ask for it! Try it!  

In next week’s post I will discuss my favorite family games. Stay tuned and get creative!

Curly Clues Club is a monthly box delivery service for kids ages 3-8, focused on social and emotional development. All boxes include original content designed with love by a speech & language pathologist.

Jane Koerbel