The summer brings sunshine, ice cream, days by the pool and more free time for children, but it can also mean more screen time. According to an annual report from the nonprofit Common Sense Media, screen use for children and adolescents ages 8 to 18 jumped 17% between 2019 and 2021 – a steeper increase than in the four years prior to the pandemic. The report also shows that screen use rose by nearly 50 minutes per day to five-and-half hours for ages 8 to 12. For teenagers the increase was 15 more minutes, totaling eight hours and 39 minutes per day of screen time.
Excessive screen time has been shown to have an impact on a child’s development. The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend children under 2 years old use any sort of media and suggests older children only be exposed to two hours of screen time a day.
While every family is different and has unique needs, here are five tips and resources from UScellular to help parents manage screen time for their kids:
- Create a personalized parent-child agreement: Establishing set parameters can help parents and children see eye-to-eye on appropriate device usage. UScellular’s Digital Family Matters website is a resource for parents and children and provides a Parent-Child Agreement to help facilitate discussions with children around cellphone use.
- Keep screen time and mealtime separate: Eating meals in front of the screen can be convenient, but it also leads to increased screen time. Use mealtime to converse or play games as a family around the dinner table. Unless people are actively watching the screen, the Mayo Clinic suggests turning off the television.
- Keep TVs or computers in a shared space: It’s easier to know what a child is doing on the web when a parent can easily see their activities from shared living spaces.
- Let the apps help: There are apps such as Qustodio Parental Control & Screen Time App that allow guardians to schedule specific screen time and block websites.
- Understand rules change: Specific guidelines around screen time can be set as a family, but there are instances, such as a long airplane ride, that can cause family rules to be modified for a certain length of time.
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