Screen Time For Kids: A Guide For Monitoring A Child’s Screen Time

ByBarbara Nevers Updated November 3, 2020
Screen Time For Kids

In today’s digitalized world, young adults, adolescents, and children are growing up in front of a screen. They spend almost one-third of their day on devices such as tablets, laptops, smartphones, and TVs scrolling through a lot of social media feeds, checking out a few online videos, watching TV and listen to music.

However, there are some advantages to all this screen time. The Internet, social media, smartphone, and TV offer many creative and learning opportunities and help develop tech skills required to compete for positions in a highly competitive job market. However, some studies show that these screen time can also affect kids’ health and their preparedness for school.

Some media and experts warn against the dangers of screen time for kids and adults alike. So, how do you manage your kid’s screen time? Here’s a primer guide to child’s use of screens and media.

Table of Contents

Symptoms of Autism DisorderExperts Define Screen
Create a Safety PlanPositive Things About Screens Time
Safety for SchoolsConcerns Of Screen Time
Safety for SchoolsProblems Associated With Screen
Safety at HomeLimit Screen Time
Safety in PublicKeep Monitor And Track Your Child’s Screen Time
Prevent Wandering/ElopementBest Screen Time For Kids
Sexual SafetyEnsure Screen Time Quality

How Do Experts Define Screen Time?

An Overall Look Into the Symptoms of Autism Disorder

WHO (World Health Organization) gets subtle with their definition, discouraging “passively watching entertainment screen” while not including more active screen consumption such as a movement video game! WHO says, reading to your kid’s, playing games and physical activity are considered far more important than screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns against “screen time,” defined it as anything apart from video chatting, and recommends limiting it to an hour a day before the age of 18 months.

How Much Time Are Kids Spending On Screens?

According to the Nielsen group, adults spend over 11 hours interacting with media in a day and 4 hours and 46 minutes out of the 11 hours are used watching TV. According to a 2016 research a study by Common Sense Media, kids spend an average of 9 hours interacting with media in a day, not including time spent on homework or school. The same media survey report from Common Sense found that Kids ages 2-5 spend approximately 32 hours per week in front of a screen playing videos game and watching TV. Kids ages 8-12 were spending 6 hours per day interacting with media.

The concern around too much screen time for kids is a big issue. The vast majority of programs and apps that claim to teach children don’t really have evidence to back that up. So, how can you monitor your kid’s screen? Continue reading this guide to find an answer to this question.

The Positive Things About Screens Time For Kids

Are there any positives things about screen time for kids? Below, we take a look at how your kids can benefit from a limited amount of screen time.

The Positive Things About Screens Time For Kids

1 Screen time can be educational

Some TV programs are fantastic. In fact, the Education Development Center and the Ready To Learn Initiative release a curriculum, which shows how digital media like video games helped improve early literacy skills when coupled with an active teacher and parental involvement.

2 Screen time promotes school readiness

Support for school readiness is found in modern technologies like e-books and traditional forms like book reading. Whether a story is in digital format or print, parents can help kids develop the skills they need for school by involving their children in dialogic reading relating the content to the child’s life and asking them questions related to the stories.

3 Promote co-playing and co-viewing

Children as young as 18 months can learn from digital media when co-playing or co-viewing with an adult. It is essential that parents ask their kid’s questions about the content they are co-viewing, point out important ideas, and blend the material into their daily lives and routines.

4 Support family interactions

Using video chat allows family members to connect when face-to-face interactions may not be possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics acknowledges that children younger than 18 months can use such video platforms with their parents to connect with family members.

What Are The Biggest Concerns Of Screen Time?

What Are The Biggest Concerns Of Screen Time?

Development is the number one concern when it comes to screen time with young children. Increased media exposure for kids under the age of three has demonstrated a negative effect, most especially on their verbal development. Kids not getting enough sleep, exercise, and interaction with the adults around them are another big concern. Studies are correlating increased exposure to media portrayals of violence, high-risk sexual behaviors, drug and alcohol abuse among teens.

An AAP post titled “How Media Can Affect Children’s Health” reveal that media can influence children’s behaviors and beliefs in terms of aggression and violence, substance abuse, sex, eating disorders, and obesity. Heavy television viewing has been linked with diminished academic performance, and attention-deficit as well as asthma, hypertension, sleep disorders, mood disorders, depression, and psychological distress.

Parents themselves can address these concern. When parents are watching TV or looking at phones, they are not having face-to-face interactions with their children, and this is how kids learn from us. So it’s essential for parents to monitor their media use to make sure that they are giving their kids the attention that they need.

Why Is It Difficult To Keep Your Kids Off Of Screens?

Most parents know that their kids would perform better without too much screen, but it not always an easy job to get them off the screen. A recent study shows that teens spent an average of nine hours on screen daily ahead of time for school or work. This screen addiction is tied to poor academic achievement, poor sleep, behavior, mood, which results in higher stress, careless mistakes, and less success.

Why is it hard to let go of the screens? If adults fail to control their screen usage, certainly a teen or child—whose management skills are defined immature until their twenties will struggles too. Part of the problem is that they are set to be as addictive and time-consuming as possible.

While tech and health screen use are fine, we cannot expect kids to manage their screens usage without adult guidance safely. In one survey, around 70% of kids felt their parent is part of the problem because they are always on their devices. However, parents should first model healthy screen time behavior themselves to support their children.

Problems Associated With Screen Time

Today’s children grew up with a wide range of electronic devices at their fingertips. These kids can’t imagine a world without tablets, smartphones, and the Internet. While digital devices can provide unlimited hours of entertainment and educational content, too much screen time can be harmful. So it’s essential to understand the problem associated with unlimited screen time.

Problems Associated With Screen Time

1 Learning

Kids that spend a lot of time on TV and video games are likely to suffer from attention disorders, and anything that affects the kid’s attention affects learning. The AAP discourages media use by children under the age of 2 and says there is no proven developmental and educational benefit at this age.

2 Self-confidence

The more time kids spent watching TV, playing video games or other content on digital devices; the less time the kids have creating and exploring their own experiences, stories, or art.

3 Emotions and personality

Kids who use more than two hours per day in front of a TV or computer had a higher chance of psychological problems. Kids that play violent video games are linked to being more aggressive and less sensitivity to others.

4 Addiction and reward seeking

According to a recent survey, 50 percent of teens admitted being addicted to their smartphones. During the teenage years, the brain’s dopamine center is extra sensitive, making the rush to play video games more intense and addictive.

5 Difficulty in sleeping

Screen time can have severe effects on sleep. Much research has linked screen use among young children with shorter, lower-quality sleeping time. It’s generally agreed that teens need more sleep than adults. Watching screens before settling down to sleep can disrupt or affect the chemicals in the body that help kids sleep.

6 Weight and overall health

Watching TV for two or more hours has been linked to weight gain in this age group. Researches have also noted blood pressure and higher cholesterol in kids who watch more TV. Several studies have found that the more TV children watch, the more like they are to be overweight.

7 Generating addictions

Addiction is a strong word use for a video game. High levels of gaming can expose those involved to high levels of dopamine; this means that they will be seeking to do more to get a real ‘hit’ from the chemical. It may lead to other addictive behaviors, as children grow older, as well as the need to play more and more games.

What Does A Parent Need To Do?

Parents have a tough job to do. They must be goalkeepers, cheerleaders, fence menders, and fence builders. Parents must do all their best to keep their children safe, open their minds — and remember to shut the back door. It’s essential that parent learn how to limit their kid’s screen time in favor of productivity and actual human interaction. Parents need to keep tabs on how often their kids consume media or watch TV since they’re being exposed to things like tablets and phones at an increasingly younger age. So how do parent limit screen time for their kids?

How To Limit Screen Time For Kids

A lot of research has demonstrated why limiting screen time for children is a great idea. Even though there are age-appropriate games, apps, TV shows, movies and more that are rated appropriate for kids, but with all the rating and appropriate content, you still need to actively monitor screen time to ensure proper development and growth of your kids. Below are ways to limit screen time.

How To Limit Screen Time For Kids

1 Set a good example

It is necessary to set a good example for your kid by limiting your personal screen time because your children watch what you do all the time. According to a report by WebMD, parent’s media usage can affect their child’s behavior negatively. Kid’s can feel neglected when a parent is always viewing at their phone instead of attending to them and can cause the kids to act out to get attention.

Be mindful of how often you use media during the day, and try to limit your screen time or avoid these activities when you’re with your child. When you give your kids full attention, they’ll react with better behavior.

2 Reduce the number of screens

Kids find it harder to watch TV or play video games when you have fewer screens available in your house. This prevents screen exposure after bedtime, as well as late-night wake-ups. According to research by the National Institutes of Health, kids who have a TV in their bedroom watch one and a half hours more television per day than those who don’t have a set in their room.

Next, think about when your children should have their own smartphone, as this is a personal choice. Just ask yourself, “Does my kid need a personal phone?” What benefits will he or she get on a personal phone in terms of security and safety? Try to answer these questions.

3 Set limits

A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work with screen time for kids. The AAP discourages media use for children younger than 18 to 24 months except for video chatting. They suggest parent limit screen time to one hour a day of high quality content for children ages 2 to 5.

Educational television can be healthy as long as it doesn’t past the limit you’ve set for it. You may also consider limiting the type of content your kids access on their device. Protect your kids from inappropriate or dangerous situations, as they get older.

4 Keep it active

You can use screen time as a way to keep your child’s very active. You can challenge your kids to a game of Wii Sports. You can do several interactive dances or sports games with your child.

If you’re watching TV with your kids, you can do exercises such as marching or jumping jacks during the commercials. That will keep you and your kid’s heart rate going better than remaining sitting the whole time watching TV.

5 Track screen time

There is an adage, which says, “Anything that can be measured can be managed,” and this applies to your kid’s media use. Track the amount of time your children are spending in front of a screen. Start monitoring your kids in the morning, and observe how much exposure they are getting from any screen, which includes television, smartphone, computer, or laptop.

Note the amount of time your kid is spending in front of each device, and what exactly they’re doing. To get the average screen, track their use over a few days. Then, you’ll know if your children are consuming the right amount or too much exposure.

6 Encourage digital literacy

At some point, your kids may be exposed to content or device that you haven’t approved. Talk to your child about the future situations that could occur and the behavior you expect.

Encourage your kid to think about what they see on their screens.  Help your child to understand that the media is made up of human’s view of points. Ask your child to ensure the content they are reading on the Internet is accurate.

7 Get involved in other activities

Finding things to do with your kids without being attached to a screen is ideal. However, building puzzles, playing outside, playing a board game, reading, and coloring are just a few of the many physical activities that children can engage in during their leisure time.

Assisting in home cleaning and cooking activities is also another great way to keep kids busy while teaching them necessary life skills. So if you feel like screen time is harming your children’s life, consider adding other activities to your home.

8 Cut the cable

Cutting your cable/satellite television feed is one sure way to limit your child’s television viewing habit. It will change your family’s life overnight and positively impact your checkbook too.

When your kids are still little is the best time to make this move. A toddler or infant won’t know what they’re missing. However, you could meet more resistance if you try limiting an older school-aged child.

9 Get screens out of the bedroom

Percent of teen’s ages 6 to11 have a TV set in their bedroom. 34% of 5 to 15-year-olds kids now have their own smartphone or tablet. A survey by Kaiser Family Foundation in 2010 reveals that 31% of kids age 8 to10 years old have their own cell phones, as do 85% of teens between ages 14 to 17 and 69% of kids from age 11 to 14.

When kids browse the Internet in their bedroom, they are more exposed to predators and more likely to get in trouble on the Web. When TVs, tablets, and gaming consoles are in their bedrooms, kids will use them.

10 Use tech tools

There are so many third-party irony apps that parents can use to monitor and manage their kids’ screen time. For example, Qustodio lets you set time limits on individual Android and iOS apps and see who your child is texting as well as the contents of those messages.

Services like OurPact, unglue, and Kidslox provide similar functionality for setting screen-time restrictions and monitoring. But all of these apps require a subscription fee for the most-robust controls.

How To Keep Monitor And Track Your Child’s Screen Time

From an early age, it’s essential to keep tabs on your kids’ viewing habits and monitor how they react to media. Here the best way to keep your kids safe online and track the screen time.

ow To Keep Monitor And Track Your Child's Screen Time

1 Use Norton family

Norton’s award-winning parental control software used to keep tabs on your kids’ screen time. Norton allows you to monitor the amount of time your kids spend on their devices, so you can help them create a healthy consumption habit. It also helps your kids balance time spent online by setting screen time limits for their device. The app allows you to schedule specific times of the day or week for each device use and how many hours a day can be spent on each device.

2 Use social media tracking features

Some social media apps let you set a limit of usage for your kids and create alerts when you’ve hit the threshold. You can set up these features in your kid’s accounts. Besides, most devices offer a setting that allows you to track your daily and weekly screen time.

3 Track media manually

Use a hand-drawn chart and a timer to keep track of your family’s media use. Ask your child’s to fill in the details, which will help them become more aware of the amount of time they spend on screen and how they can regulate it. The only drawback of this approach is that it demands extra time to track the details.

What Is The Best Screen Time For Kids?

What Is The Best Screen Time For Kids

According to Forbes, if the kids are exposed to screens (TV, Phone, Tablet, etc.) for more than 2 hours per day, then it can severely affect their Cognitive skills. The AAP also recommends that babies 0 – 18 months should avoid digital media except for video chatting. This is because young kids need to interact with people to learn.

From 18 months to 24 months, the AAP recommends kids screen usage to involve co-viewing quality apps/programs with caregivers. The AAP recommends limiting entertainment screen time including TV, computer, and video games to one hour a day for children ages 2 to 5. They also suggest setting reasonable screen time limits for kid’s ages 6 – 18.

Screen Time Recommendations By Age

It’s essential to limit your children screen time. The AAP provides the following screen time recommendations that every family must follow.

1 Under 18 months

The AAP says babies need hands-on exploration and social interaction to learn and develop crucial skills. Therefore, parents need to focus their baby’s attention on playtime that is more interactive, including books, and toys instead of screens. Occasional video call in your present can help your baby form social connections with long-distance relatives.

2 18–24 months

According to the AAP, educational programs that involve interactive touch screens and video chatting can help your kids if you choose to introduce media to your toddler. When selecting media, avoid fast-paced apps and programs with a lot of violent and distracting content.

3 2–5 years

Educational programs can boost kids cognitive, literacy, and social skills. Many skills required for life success are best taught on media. Limit your kid’s screen time to one hour or less per day, and help them understand what they’re watching on the TV, as well as how to applies what they have learned to their everyday lives.

4 6 years and older

Help your kids to become aware of the media they use and the time they spend engaging with it, as they get older. Create a family plan that defines different types of screen use. Set flexible limits to make sure digital screens don’t replace physical activity and real-life interactions.

How To Ensure Screen Time Quality

How To Ensure Screen Time Quality

Talk to your child about the possible future situations that could come up and the behavior you expect because he or she may be exposed to content and devices that you haven’t approved beforehand at some point.

Screen Time Alternative Activities

Tablet, cell phone, television, and computer time the kids are going through is unnecessary and damaging if too much. So, How can parents replace screen time with more interactive and productive activities? Below are some of our best alternative activities.

1 Reading

Reading is an excellent way to entertain your child – without the adverse effects of too much screen time. Consider reading to your child from a novel that’s appropriate for their age if he or she cannot read. Reading out loud is a great recreational activity for the whole family. You’ll all have a great time together, and your child’s thinking will run wild.

2 Learning new skills

Hobbling and crafting can help your kids build skills that will stay with them for a long time. You need to encourage your kid’s and inspire them if they show interest in a particular hobby.

3 Playing outdoor with friends

Physical activity and social interaction are two important things that often disappear when kids spend too much of their time in front of screens. Playing outside with friend gives your kids a social outlet and a way to exercise their body. Sometimes, there’s no better way your kids can enjoy the day than walking around with friends or exploring the garden around the environment.

4 Storytelling

Storytelling is another excellent way to keep your kid’s off the screen. This is best done at night before bedtime when your kid is more relaxed and able to answer questions about the story. With storytelling, parents can teach their kids something new.

5 Card games and board games

Card games and board games offer your kids a great way to interact with friends and family! There’s nothing like a family night game. Grab a monopoly and play your kid’s favorite card game.

6 Sports

Kids are superheroes when it comes to endurance and energy levels. Allow them to exercise at least twice a week, and you will see that your kids will show better levels of concentration and self-confidence as well as much more relaxed.

7 Singing and dancing

Singing and dancing is an excellent way to keep your child’s energy going. These activities will benefit your kid’s once he or she starts school, as they will be singing nursery rhymes in the class.

8 Sensory play

You can use many things for sensory play. It can be beans, rice, sand, clay, soil, and others. This type of game should be done before bath time since this is a messy activity.

In Conclusion

Screen Time For Kids

Technology devices such as TV, laptop, computer, tablets, or smartphones continue to play a more prominent role in our society. It connects us to the world and exposes us to opportunities and ideas that we might never have encountered. However, kids need to be exposed to these opportunities and ideas, but parents need to set boundaries about how they use these devices.

Researchers have found that parents who make an effort to limit their child screen time help their child to be more productive. Although your kids may resist your efforts to limit their screen time, the long-term benefits are worth it. Hope you now have a better idea of screen time effect on your kids. We hope that this article has helped you to come up with a reliable method by which you can monitor, limit, and restrict your kid’s screen time. Thank you for your time.


About the Author

Barbara Nevers

Barbara is a full-time mom of 3 children and a part-time blogger since 2018. She likes to write on various topics about motherhood. She drinks a lot of coffee, loves French pastries, reads a lot, also enjoys crafts and Montessori activities.

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