Screen Time: Guidelines

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have published guidelines on the recommended duration of screen time a child should be limited to. While having a fixed number can be helpful for some families, this may not be realistic for others. 

These guidelines may be misconstrued and parents may be judged for not adhering to these limits. Not being able to follow these guidelines may also contribute to feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, and even frustration for parents.

What’s Missing?

On one hand, these guidelines aim to give parents an idea of how to manage time spent on television, tablets, gaming consoles and phones. On the other hand, parents may benefit more from learning how best to use media effectively.

Instead of focusing on how much time kids should spend on media, it may be more important to pay attention to (1) what they are watching, (2) who they are watching it with, and (3) what they are not engaging in because of media use.

Technology is not inherently bad. These tools have been a part of our lives for generations, and it has contributed to our development, learning, work life, and relationships in many ways. Technology becomes problematic when media is used excessively. This may then contribute to issues such as behavior challenges, sleep reduction, a sedentary lifestyle, and poor nutrition.

The Reality

Now, more than ever, children and adults have increased access to various types of media. In fact, we can now stay connected 24/7 through multiple platforms. How can we ensure that children and adolescents have a wholesome and well-balanced relationship with media and non-media related activities?

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