Guidelines: Screen Time Limitations for Young Children
We live in a digital world, which is why it is more important than ever for parents to set screen time limitations for their children. Most parents have noticed that digital devices are the toy of choice for children of all ages. Just because your child wants to play with a phone or iPad, doesn’t mean they should have unlimited access.
Screen Time Limits for Toddlers
Babies usually interact with tech by grabbing at digital devices or participating in FaceTime chats with family members. As the child grows to become a toddler, meaningful tech time can be implemented. At this stage in childhood, screen time should be limited based on these guidelines:
- Don’t exceed more than 20 – 30 minutes in one sitting
- Limit overall screen time to less than 1 hour per day total
It’s your responsibility as a parent to choose how the child interacts with digital devices. Of course, the discretion of individual parents will affect the way tech is used at home. Families are often looking for the balance to participate in engaging activities together without using screen time as a crutch to quiet the kids.
Why Screen Time Should Be Limited
Be aware of the way screen time is being used as a tool. For example, parents and children sometimes rely on screens to calm the child or encourage the child to sit still. This use of technology could negatively impact the development of age-appropriate skills, such as self-regulation.
Additionally, too much screen time can affect a child’s physical health. Spending time in front of a screen results in a sedentary lifestyle that is connected with obesity in young children. There is also concern about potential harm to the child’s visual development, including eye strain and dry eye problems in childhood.
Choosing Digital Media for Your Family
Be selective by choosing apps, games, and videos that promote the toddler’s development. Not only do you want to support the child’s learning, but parents are often concerned about the safety of their children. Always check the safety ratings and age recommendations in the app store. You can also look up information through online organizations working to empower parents:
- Common Sense Media
- International Age Rating Coalition
- Joan Ganz Cooney Center
- Screens and Kids
- Family Online Safety Institute
- Project Lead The Way
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- Children’s Technology Review
Establishing Boundaries at Home
As you determine the limitations for your child’s screen time, you will need to establish and enforce boundaries in your home. The goal is to help your toddler develop a healthy relationship with screens, which means that you need to set boundaries so the tech access doesn’t go unchecked.
The first step is to establish firm rules regarding when and where family members should use digital devices. For example, consider turning off the screens in the evening to protect eye health and improve overall sleep patterns. You might implement “tech-free” zones, such as not allowing tech in the dining room or at the dinner table. When these boundaries are established, everyone in the family needs to follow the rules, not just the toddler.
Do you have questions about your child’s eye health? Village Eyecare is here to help. We are supporting families in the Chicago area by encouraging healthy habits at home. Call us or head over to our online scheduler to book an appointment for your child.