One super controversial topic that is currently popular is screen time for kids. Is it good, is it bad? How much is too much? Everyone has a different opinion on this, and we can’t really say that any one outlook is right. Someone can find scientific proof that screen time affects a child’s mood, while someone can find scientific research that it improves their critical thinking, etc.
This article is simply to give you one opinion on screen time and get you thinking so that you can make the decision you feel is right for your kids.
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In this article you will find:
- What is considered screen time
- How much screen time is too much
- Pros and cons of screen time
- Tips for making screen time beneficial for kids
What Does Screen Time Include?
Screen time is time spent on any sort of electronic device. This includes watching t.v., using cell phones, computers, and tablets, playing video games, etc.
There are so many different electronic devices out there nowadays, so we are going to just consider any and all of the screen time options.
How Much Screen Time Is Too Much?
This is pretty much impossible to say. Although, it’s generally agreed that the younger the children, the less screen time they should have. This makes sense, because kids under the age of two don’t have much of an attention span, and aren’t really entertained by screens for very long anyway. They are much more entertained by other people.
For older kids, there isn’t a set number of hours a day that is proven to be best, but it should be at least limited. Being on a screen all day every day isn’t good for anyone, children or adults. Not only is it not good for your brain, but it’s not good for your eyes, your attitude, or anything else really.
The best advice when deciding how much screen time your child should have is to determine it based on your child’s individual needs. If they tend to have a worse attitude after using screens for too long, they might need less screen time. If they get plenty of time a day to play with other kids, play individually, and use their imagination, they might be okay having more screen time. Maybe they are having a hard time socializing with others, they might need less screen time and more in-person play. Check out these indoor/outdoor trampolines for toddlers if you’re looking for more options for physical activity and less technology.
Pros and Cons of Screen Time for Kids
Pros of Screen Time
1. Kids Can Learn A LOT
There is a video, game, movie, tv-show, etc. about anything and everything now. Your child can watch videos on learning Spanish, or sign language. They can watch videos on how to draw. They can watch movies about all different kinds of life lessons, like potty training, emotional regulation, getting a new sibling in the family, etc. There are so many amazing resources out there now, that are really educational and informative.
2. Kids Can Only Learn So Much From Their Parents – Other Resources Can Be Beneficial
Kids need to learn from a variety of sources, not just their parents. Other resources they can learn from are other kids, family members, teachers, through individual exploration, and through screen time!
You can tell your child how important it is to know how to use the potty, but when they hear it from a movie or other kids, they are going to think… hey my mom says that it must really be true. Let other resources, such as screen time, help you teach your kids the things you think are important.
3. Electronic Devices Can Help Kids Stay Connected (And Safe)
With the technology to call, text, facetime, or skype, it’s so easy to stay connected with family and friends you might not otherwise see very often. Especially during the pandemic. Technology allowed families to visit, kids to attend school, and even let kids still socialize with other kids through virtual playdates.
Some devices even help keep kids safe. A lot of kids’ phones and smartwatches have GPS now, which is really great for kids who walk to and from school alone or go play at a neighbors house. Parents can always check where they are, reach out and tell them to come home, or just check in with them and see how they’re doing.
Cons of Screen Time
1. Screen Time Is Addicting
Screen time can become a literal addiction for some. That’s why it’s important to limit it to a healthy amount. And a healthy amount is different for each child. If your child is showing signs of becoming dependent on screen time, that’s a good sign to allow less screen time.
2. Too Much Can Cause A Lack of Social and Language Skills
It’s extremely important that kids get a lot of social interaction with others, no matter how much screen time they have. But it’s been shown that kids who spend a lot of time on technology, are less comfortable in social situations. This is especially apparent in generations who text all the time, rather than calling. They are often very uncomfortable making phone calls because they are more used to texting people.
3. Kids Sometimes Don’t Get Enough Physical Play
If kids are spending too much time on screens, they are probably not getting enough hands-on play. Kids need hands-on activities to increase motor skills and use their imagination and creativity. Using their hands also uses their brains. Check out this list of warm-weather activities for kids of all ages!
Tips for Making Screen Time Beneficial for Kids
1. Have Them Earn It
It can be good to have kids earn their screen time, in a sense. Some ideas might be; no screens until after chores are done, or homework is finished, or they’ve read a book, played outside, etc. This is a great life lesson because it’s the same concept as what adults have to do. Adults don’t get to play until the work is done. We have to work before we have money to go on a vacation, etc.
Grab a printable chore chart to help encourage your kids to do their chores before they get screen time. Screen time is a great reward for kids who are working on learning responsibility at home, and chores are a great way to practice responsibility.
2. Try to Encourage Educational Screen Time
While there is a lot of garbage tv and videos, there is also a TON of really great, educational screen time options. Encouraging educational videos, movies, and games can make all the difference in the benefit of screen time for your kids. My daughter taught me sign language the other day that she learned on youtube. Help them look up things that will educate them AND keep their interest.
3. Monitor What They Watch
There are ways to add parental controls, to ensure what your children are watching is beneficial. If your kids are older, give them guidelines as to what they can and can’t watch or play. This is a great way to build trust with them. It’s better to have them make the correct choice than to force it on them.
Sidenote: Screen Time in the Car
If you have a road trip coming up and are looking for ways to avoid your kids using electronics the whole time, try these Road Trip Activity Pages for Kids! They will keep the kids busy for hours.
What Is Your Opinion on Screen Time for Kids?
When it all comes down to it, it’s up to each child’s parents to decide how much screen time they want their children to have, if any. Hopefully, this article has given you some things to think about and base your decision on. Let us know in the comments your thoughts on kids and technology use.
Don’t forget to check out these other parenting related articles:
- 30 Day “Be A Better Mom” Challenge
- 13 Best Movies About Motherhood That Every Mom Needs to Watch
- 13 Totally Perfect Quotes About the Struggles of Motherhood
Kayla is the content creator over at motviationformom.com. She is a wife and mother who loves to share all of the tips, tricks, and life lessons that she has learned over the years with all of her readers. Her primary focus is on children’s education, motherhood, and healthy family relationships!