Summer months can feel long with kids when school is out, and the heat keeps many of us indoors. Spending hours in front of a screen – television, computer, tablets, phones – can be tempting to pass the time but don’t lose the summer to screens. Let’s understand what safe and appropriate screen time is for kids of all ages.
Screen Time Guidelines
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, here are some good rules for screen time with kids:
- Under 18 months – there should be no screens other than a video call with loved ones.
- Under 2 years – limit screen time to no more than 1 hour a day of high-quality programs like Sesame Street.
- Ages 2 – 5 years – screen time should be around an hour and be high-quality, educational shows that are made for young kids.
- Older kids – it all depends on the kid and what they are doing on the screens. But experts agree, limit screen time for other activities like spending time with friends or family, exercise, or sports.
Busy Summer Without Screens
Turing off screens can make kids disappointed and even irritable at first, but it is good in the long run. Allowing children to be bored is actually very good for their development. There are some other things to keep kids busy this summer – even in this heat!
- Chores – studies show that children who do chores (as young as 3) have higher self-esteem, are more responsible, and deal with frustrations better. So, make sure they clean their room, make their bed, and more. Examples of age-appropriate chores here.
- Read – kids should either read if they can or be read to for at least 20 minutes every day.
- Exercise – everyone should get active. It might need to be inside or early in the morning because of the heat, but get 30 minutes to an hour of sports, exercise, or other activities every day.
- Creativity – make something or get creative. Help cook or bake, draw or paint, make music, or any number of other activities.
Screen time can be beneficial for education, something many parents and kids found out with virtual learning during the pandemic. But it’s not good for all kids, and you don’t want to overdo it! Plus it can be bad for a child’s (and adults) sleep. Read more about that here.
Remember that it is also important for parents and other family members to show the same behavior. If older siblings or parents are always on their phone, younger kids will want to do the same. Try to change up screen time in your home together and everyone will benefit!