Electronics are an ever-present pastime for many children with access to tablets, cell phones and laptops. Their hours of texting, web-browsing and other activities on hand-held devices might grow even more endless during lazy summer days, but the new school year marks a good time to form better habits.
More green time – meaning time spent outdoors, playing and being physically active – and less screen time is important for youth, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC suggests that parents limit younger children’s total screen time to one to two hours a day and establish age-appropriate limits for older children. For recommendations reference the CDC guidelines here. Similarly, the American Academy of Pediatrics has suggested one hour daily of quality screen time for ages 2 to 5, and “consistent limits” to screen time for ages 6 and older.
But the best way to successfully set limits on your children’s screen time is to set a few limits of your own. Here are some simple tips to help you disconnect your kids from their devices – and help you reconnect with the kids.
- Keep TVs and devices out of everyone’s bedrooms and out of the kitchen, to encourage healthy sleep and meal time habits.
- Make the dinner table a “device-free” zone, including the TV. Use your table time during meals to connect and engage with the family. Some park their devices in a certain area during designated times, to avoid the temptation to tune out the family.
- Allow children a limited amount of time with devices and computer games that encourage activity and physical movement, such as games that simulate sports or dance moves.
- Set a screen curfew no later than 30 minutes before bed, which experts suggest helps encourage more restful sleep patterns.
- Establish routines, such as requiring that homework and household chores be finished before devices are used.
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