For that reason, most health experts recommend limiting the amount of time that babies and toddlers spend in front of a screen. Which is sound advice — but in today's world, it can often be hard to keep little ones away from screens. Let's face it: Screens are literally everywhere! When you think about all the TVs, tablets, computers, smartphones, and gaming systems you can probably see right now, it’s hard to think of a time when you’re little one can avoid them.
With this in mind, I think we can agree that avoiding screens completely isn’t very realistic today. However, what we can do, is think about the times when babies and toddlers are in-front of a screen and whether this is quality time and necessary.
How Much Is Too Much?
It is recommended that babies younger than 18 months should have no screen time at all. Although, the exception to this rule is video chatting with grandparents or other family friends, which is considered quality time interacting with others.
For toddlers 18 to 24 months old can enjoy some screen time with a parent or caregiver. By ages 2 and 3, kids should watch no more than 1 hour a day.
But not all screen time is the same. For example, you and your little one are playing an interactive game on a tablet or watching an educational programme together, this is classed as good screen time. Plopping your toddler down in front of the TV to watch your favourite shows with you is an example of bad screen time.
Try and use screen time as a chance to interact with your child and teach lessons about the world. If they are in front of a screen, sit with them and try and make the experience interactive.
Think of screen time principles in the same way you would parenting. Set a good example and set some limits/timings.
Screen Time Tips
To make your little ones screen time more productive:
- With younger kids, try and be with them during screen time and interact with them. Play an educational game or talk about something you see together in an age-appropriate TV show or video
- To your research... There are thousands of apps and games that claim to be educational, but not all of them are. Search online to see which ones have the best reviews and recommendations from other parents and consider the best.
- Plan lots of non-screen time into your little ones day. Playtime is important for building creativity, so young children should have time to play away from screens every day. Family meals and bedtimes are also important times to put the screens away and interact with your child