Don’t Focus Solely on Kids’ Screen Time — Focus on the Quality

While spending time at home, toddlers and kids are usually allowed some screen time. This is a concept many parents struggle with and the question of how much time in front of screens is too much for developing children. Although it is important to keep this time relatively low each day, another thing parents should focus on is the quality of what their kids are watching.

little girl in headphones and boy using digital tablets while lying on bed

Screen Time Was the Prime Concern

Thanks to all the research that’s been done and that’s still being conducted, national and international guidelines exist regarding how much screen time kids should be allowed per day. In general, the recommendation for four-year-old kids is up to an hour in front of screens. For kids between the ages of 5-17, the recommendation is two hours, not including any school work. The time rule may not always be easy to track and enforce, but it shouldn’t be the primary concern. It’s important to look into the quality.

toddlers watching tv

The Quality of the Content Matters

Early childhood experiences are strongly linked to a child’s mental, emotional, and physical development. That’s why outdoor playtime is very important. Using screens isn’t altogether bad, but it should only be a part of how a child spends their time. In just a few minutes of a child watching a superhero movie with an older sibling, they could view a dramatic fight scene they weren’t prepared for. On the other hand, they could spend some time each day video-chatting with a friend and developing communication skills. Better yet, a child could watch an age-appropriate movie with a family member and then discuss the characters and the story.

boy holding a tablet

Time to Co-View and Interact

Most parents view screen time as a window of time during which the kids will be calm and stationary so they can finish a household task or take a break themselves. However, this is the perfect time to engage in what the child is watching or playing. Use the child’s gaming or entertainment as a chance to talk and work on building communication and comprehension skills. Inquire about what the child is watching or playing, ask them what they like the most about it, and help them develop critical thinking about the programs and media they watch.

father and son playing a video game

Help Choose What Kids Watch

Although it’s perfectly fine to let kids use their screen time for popular cartoons just for fun, parents should get actively involved in program selection. Make sure to introduce a few age-appropriate educational shows that can promote active play and emotional resilience, and create an interest in numbers, language, and problem-solving. Playing games with them, such as Mario Kart, can help develop a sense of teamwork and build up fine motor skills.