The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids under 2 years old have no screen time, and that kids older than 2 watch no more than one to two hours a day of quality programming.
It's also a good idea to make sure kids have a wide variety of free-time activities, like crafts, reading, playing with friends and sports, which can all play a vital part in helping them develop a healthy body and mind.
SLUCare pediatrician Matt Broom was recently interviewed by STL Public Radio on this topic. Broom said the intention for screen time isn't to serve as an "e-babysitter," so parents can complete tasks, but rather serve as an interactive tool that parents can use one-on-one with their children.
"The reality is that we need to be interactive with our kids. [We need to ask them] what do you like about this show; what do you not like? What do you think about that? Then, we can actually see what they're viewing," he explained. "The other key factor is setting limits. Many families don't set limits, and if they don't, the expectation is they can watch for however long they like."
Here are some practical ways to make kids' screen time more productive.
- Limit the number of TV-watching or iPad-playing hours.
- Set a good example yourself.
- Come up with a family schedule for screen time.
- Watch TV or play with the iPad with your child
- Share your thoughts on what they're doing, and engage them in conversation.
For more tips on making screen time more productive, visit the "Healthy Habits" section of the SSM Cardinal Glennon's KidsHealth Library.
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