Giving the gift of new screens?
As the holiday season is upon us, many parents are gifting their kids the gift of new screens: phones, tablets, game systems, etc. With kids spending time in front of screens for remote school — or playing on screens during their winter break — they get a lot of time in front of technology lately. Is there a guideline of how many hours children should spend in front of a screen?
“There is no magical number of hours kids should be on screens,” says Dr. John Weaver, optometrist at Aurora Health Center in West Bend, WI. “Every child is different and develops differently. However, similar to adults, the more time children spend in front of a screen, the more likely they will develop eye strain.”
There can be many other negative consequences of too much screen time for children, including obesity and possible behavioral issues.
Dr. Weaver recommends a few tips that parents can do to moderate and even improve screen time with their kids:
- Develop a screen time schedule. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children aged 2-5 be limited to one hour of screen time each day. As children get older, this number can fluctuate based on the child’s development.
- The American Optometric Association recommends using a 20/20/20 rule: look away from screens every 20 minutes and focus on an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
- When watching content, choose content that will help with your child’s development. For example, reading online/interactive books with your child is a great way to boost their literacy.
- Set guidelines for older children. The danger many parents have is not setting screen time limits for older children, which could hinder their involvement in other activities.
About the Author
Colin graduated from Marquette University with a degree in communications and has more than 10 years of experience in small marketing firms to Fortune 500 companies. Colin is married to his wonderful wife, Brooke, and they have two children. Outside of work, Colin enjoys golf, going to the gym, watching movies (he is a Star Wars nerd), tinkering with his home theater and spending time with family and friends.