Screen Time for Kids: How to Do it Effectively

screen time for kids

Normally, brain development happens in the first 2 years of life. Therefore, it’s very important for babies and toddlers to explore their environment and experience a variety of sounds, tastes, and textures. Interacting with others helps children learn about the world around them in these earliest years.

That is also why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests limiting the amount of time that kids spend in front of a screen. We all know it’s good and necessary. But, in today’s world, it can be tough to keep babies and toddlers away from all the TVs, computers, and smartphones they see. The fact is screens are everywhere! Your child is probably going to spend some time looking at one in no time. So, make sure their screen time is as safe as possible with our guides about screen time for kids.

Limited Screen Time Per Day

screen time for kids

With under 18 months old babies, they shouldn’t have any screen time at all. The only exception to this rule is video chatting with their family and friends, which is considered quality times for interacting with others. But, make sure it shouldn’t last for too long.

Toddlers from 18 months to 24 months old can start to enjoy some screen time with a parent or caregiver for a little bit. And, by ages 2 and 3, kids should only watch no more than 1 hour a day. 

However, not all screen time is created equally. For example, you and your baby playing an interactive color or shape game on a tablet or watching high-quality educational programming together is considered good screen time. On the other hand, letting your toddler sit in front of the TV to watch your favorite shows with you is an example of bad screen time.

On top of that, you should use screen time as a chance to interact with your child and teach them lessons about the world. Don’t let your kid spend time staring at a screen alone.

Setting limits when children are young is easier than when they’re older. As a family, you should come up with some basic screen time rules that everyone understands and shares.

Tips and Advice

screen time for kids

You need to make sure that the same parenting rules apply to screen time as to anything else. Remember to set good examples, establish limits, and talk with your child about it so they can understand it clearly. Here are some tips to make your toddler’s screen time more productive:

  • Stay close to your kids during screen time and interact with them. That means playing educational games together or talking about something you see together in kid-appropriate shows or videos.
  • Research games or apps carefully before letting your child plays it. Nowadays, there are thousands of apps that claim to be educational, but not all of them are. So, it’s important to have some online research to see which ones educators and doctors consider the best.
  • Try to add plenty of non-screen time into your child’s day. Unstructured playtime is crucial for building creativity. Therefore, young children should have time to play away from screens every day.
  • Be a good role model with your own screen use on all devices. We know this one is tough for you. But, if you need to use smart devices for a long time, try to do it when your kid isn’t there. 
  • Turn off devices for mealtimes or when no one is using them, especially background TV. You can use TV to distract them for a bit, but never let them get used to that.
  • Avoid letting your kid use screens for at least 1 hour before bedtime and keep all screens out of your child’s bedroom. The blue lights from the screen interfere with sleep.
  • Encourage your kid to choose healthy activities, like outdoor play, reading, or crafting, over screen time. 

While these tools may offer benefits for learning and exploration, too much screen time can lead to poor social skills. Screen time might help at the moment but used repeatedly, over time, means your child won’t learn how to self-soothe without it. Talk to your doctor if you need new strategies for calming your kid or helping with daily transitions. If you have any questions or advice for screen time, feel free to share it in the comments!