Screen Time

iStock_000013692901Medium.jpgThe average child in the US spends almost seven hours each day watching a screen or monitor. Too much screen time can lead to attention problems, trouble in school, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. A child's brain develops rapidly during their first years, and young children learn best by interacting with other people, not screens. Studies have shown that background television noise may impact children, causing challenges with reading skills, attention spans, and the ability to play or talk with adults and other children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children ages birth to two years.

Screen time includes:

  • Television
  • Computers
  • iPads/Tablets
  • Mobile Devices
  • Video Games

Because children are often exposed to screen time in many different places, the Healthy Initiatives aim to limit screen time in the child care setting. Specifically, child care providers should allow no more than one (1) hour of non-educational, sedentary screen time per day, and no more than five (5) hours per week in their schedule.  Exceptions would be made for children utilizing screen time to work on homework assignments, or those who need electronic assistance devices.

What a child watches does matter, even at an early age. Active, educational, and age-appropriate materials should be used when children are having screen time. All screen time content should be reviewed by an adult before being shown to children to make sure it is age-appropriate and of good quality. Many television programs, DVDs and other screen materials specifically made for children are labeled as educational or informational.  Such materials may promote reading, counting, learning shapes, or building social or character skills that may be beneficial for children. Some screen-time materials such as music videos or video games have also been created to be non-sedentary, which means they are meant to get kids up and active to play along. It is ideal for children to learn by playing with adults and other children. However, if screen time is being offered then types that are educational or get the children up and moving are best

Too much screen time keeps children from playing, reading, and exploring. Instead of screen time, there are lots of things to do to keep them busy. Children love to dance to music, act out story books, or make their own stories into plays. Children also love to help, so they can be given small tasks to help with making meals or cleaning up.