young girl on ipad
February 6, 2019 | by Rebecca Cronin MD, FAAP, CLE

Screens are an inevitable part of life these days, with both benefits and downsides. One thing we do know is that the more screens we have access to, the more time we may spend on them. For parents and caregivers, it’s especially important to manage both the quantity and quality of screen time thoughtfully—our own and our children’s. Excessive time on screens can lead to inactivity, overeating, lack of interpersonal interaction, slower development, and loss of sleep. Too much screen time can also affect mental health and contribute to anxiety, depression, aggression, and social isolation.

Here are some guidelines to help you keep screen time in check for your family

Do:

  • Discuss family guidelines on screen times and types of media
  • Create a simple Family Media Use Plan with an easy-to-use template here
  • Model respectful and appropriate phone and screen usage for your children – kids copy what they see adults do!
  • Talk with your children about social media, privacy, and safety online
  • Share screen time with kids and encourage them to describe and discuss what they’re seeing
  • Stop using screens at least one hour before bedtime
  • Keep phones out of the bedroom at night
  • Strictly avoid all screen time for kids under age 2, except for video chatting and photo sharing

Don't:

  • Use your phone to entertain your kids
  • Use screens as a babysitter or a pacifier
  • Use screens at mealtimes
  • Forget screen-free playtime
  • Let online interaction replace in-person conversation and hanging out time
  • Keep phones out all the time

There are many resources to help you navigate the best ways to manage screen time, including talking with your pediatrician.

Find more resources here:

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