Let's Talk: Screen time

Tricky subject! Screen Time. 
Before Ava it was a HELL NO. Now It's a must... in moderation. 

I spoke with Parenting Educator & Former Elementary School Teacher, Laura Linn Knight on tips for screen time. Pull up a seat and take notes!

How much screen time is suitable per day?

Findings from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study reported that adolescents reported a significant jump from 3.8 hours of screen time per day to 7.7 hours of screen use per day. The study states that teens mostly spent their screen time watching or streaming videos, movies, or television shows, multiple-player gaming, and single-player gaming. 

We are seeing these same drastic increases for younger children as well. This screen time spike is not including the hours that children were spending doing online virtual school, but rather additional recreational hours outside of virtual school during the worldwide shutdown and continuing on even though most children are now back in school. 

Many parents are wondering how much screen time is appropriate. 

If we look to the American Academy of Pediatrics, we see that they discourage media use (except for video communication) by children younger than 18 months. For children 2 to 5 years old, it is suggested that screen time be limited to one hour per weekday and 3 hours on the weekend days. 

As children get older, it is hard to find an exact number, as each family is asked to weigh the pros and cons of screen time for their child and decide what is a good fit for the values of their home. 

In our household, for example, we don’t allow screens during the weekdays, but do allow one hour of video game time on Saturday and one hour on Sunday in addition to watching a show or a movie. We also often watch a Friday family movie together if time permits. In navigating how much screen time is right for your family, I suggest that parents and children make a list together of their family values. 

Family Value Chart - Reflect on your overarching values as a family. For example, quality time is a value we have. 
When we became aware that quality time together was high on our family value chart, then that value began to inform daily actions. Will we have our kids sit in front of screens for prolonged periods of time or make space in our schedule for play and connection? The second choice makes more sense when we know what we are trying to accomplish as a family, right? 
See my most recent blog (https://lauralinnknight.com/blog/screentime) for more screen time tools for your family. 

 Thoughts about kid headphones for screen time?
Headphones on a noisy airplane make sense, but using headphones within the home or out in public further removes the child from family and social connection. 
I encourage parents to have their child be aware of their surroundings and able to respond when needed. Headphones add an extra layer of disconnection. 
That’s the best way to stop screen time after the allotted time is over and how to regulate if a child is having a fit when screen time is over? 

Another great question! In the tool above I shared how I encourage families to hold a family gathering where the whole family talks about family values (remember to write it down)! 
Use these values as a jumping off point to discuss activities you would all like to do together, how you would like to structure your days, and the role of screen time usage each day (I suggest that you, as the parent, decided ahead of time what the screen time rules will be so you can let your children know during the meeting). 
Moving forward, you can stick to your new agreements as best as possible (aiming to not be rigid with your rules, but rather hopeful and excited about your new goals). 
Keep track of the amount of screen time being used with a timer yourself or ask your child to keep track of their time with a timer you give them. 
If transitioning away from screens is difficult for your child, that can be a good time to break out a family activity that is fun and squeeze in that special time you are creating more of in your home. 
Thoughts on screen time during travel? 

Airplane rides and long car trips have always been a time where our family lets the kids have more screen time than normal. Because tablets are not often used in our home, it is the time that we feel like our kids can be entertained through devices (because, let's face it, there isn’t a lot to do in a plane or a car after a few hours!). 
Each family will do what is right for their child during travel, however, upon arrival to your destination it is important to return to your family values that you have created and allocate screen time according to those values! 

 Soak up the adventure and unplug as much as possible!

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