This article was originally published in the June 2017 issue of HomeLife.
Our greatest power struggles occur when our kids have an iPad or one of our iPhones. Nothing else comes close.
If you’re a parent, you know what causes “crazy” in your kids. Usually, they’re either “hangry” (when hunger turns angry) or tired.
So what did we do in our home? We took the tablet away. That’s also when I started to research what screens were doing to our children’s brains.
In October 2016, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommended zero screen time for kids under the age of 18 months. For kids ages 2-5, the guideline is only one hour a day.
Research shows quite a few reasons, including but not limited to: increased inattention, anxiety and depression, decreased creativity, empathy, and impulse control. In fact, the AAP report reveals valuable information related to a parent’s interaction with the child during media use, how most children’s apps are invalid and unreliable, and the impact on our kids’ higher-order thinking skills.
So, what are the AAP recommendations? Here’s a summary of the guidelines:
For children younger than 18 months: Avoid all use of screen media other than video-chatting.
For children younger than 18-24 months: Introduce digital media to your children with only “high-quality” programming, and watch it with them to help them understand it.
For children ages 2 to 5 years: Limit screen use to one hour per day of high-quality programs. Co-view media with your children to help them understand what they’re seeing and apply it to the world around them.
For children ages 6 and older: Place consistent limits on the time and types of media. Make sure media doesn’t take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity, and other behaviors essential to health.
Designate media-free times together: Establish a time without media, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
Have ongoing communication: Talk about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect.
One of the AAP pediatricians, Dr. Dmitri Christakis, talks about the increasing trend he sees among parents who give their children a screen to comfort their child after an immunization. “It often works,” he says, “but think about what’s being displaced there — what they need is a hug, not an iPhone.”
Want to read more about managing screen time in your home? Click here to download Essentials of a Screen Balanced Home, a free eBook from Dr. Josh and Christi Straub.
Joshua Straub, Ph.D., has two cherished roles—as husband to wife, Christi, and dad Landon and Kennedy. He serves as Marriage and Family Strategist for LifeWay Christian Resources and leads Famous at Home, a company equipping leaders, organizations, military families, and churches in emotional intelligence and family wellness. Josh also is a Fellow of the Townsend Institute for Leadership and Counseling. As a family advocate and professor of child psychology / crisis response, Josh coaches entrepreneurs and executives to be famous at home, so they can thrive on their stage. He also speaks regularly for Joint Special Operations Command and for military families across the country.
Josh is author/ coauthor of four books including Safe House: How Emotional Safety is the Key to Raising Kids Who Live, Love, and Lead Well and creator, along with Christi, of TwentyTwoSix Parenting, an online community of parents offering discipleship tools for their kids. Together, they host the In This Together podcast and their weekly Facebook Live broadcasts reach tens of thousands of families.