Screentime: How much is too much?

Jan 17, 2017

"The world isn't just one big screen."

At least that’s the message that The Adventures of Ash and Ollie: Screen Time, an interactive e-book for kids ages 4-years and older, explores as it shows kids the importance of balancing tech time and other forms of fun. While Dana Villamagna, the author of the story, is teaching youth to live life beyond the screen, Kevin Holesh has taken a different approach. An app developer based out of Pittsburgh, PA, Kevin is helping parents and adults with a tool to track the amount of screen time that an individual or family uses. Features of the Moment - Screen Time Tracker app allows users to set daily limits and receive a notification when it’s been exceeded; be forced off the device upon exceeding that limit; and schedule time for the entire family to be screen-free.

Setting Up Proper Guidelines

Given the American Academy of Pediatrics new guidelines for the appropriate amount of screen time (defined as any time spent using digital media for entertainment), these resources are keeping parents and caregivers empowered in the ever-evolving tech landscape.

The guidelines suggest:

  • NO screen time for infants aged 18 months and younger
  • 1 hour of screen time per day for kids ages 2-5 years old
  • Restricted and monitored screen time for kids 6 years and older

When you compare the suggested guidelines with our kid’s current screen time usage, there’s a considerable disconnect.

According to BBC’s 2015 review of The Connected Kids report by market researcher Childwise, kids aged five to 16 are spending an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen; that’s twice as much than in 1995. It may come as no surprise that teens accumulate the greatest amount of screen time. Teenage boys average eight hours and teenage girls aren’t trailing too far behind with roughly seven-and-a-half- hours spent in front of a screen. Younger kids, ages five to 10-year-olds, average about four-and-a-half hours in front of TV.

Taking Additional Measures

So what can we do to effectively manage and monitor screen time? In addition to the resources shared above, we can try the following as recommended by the AAP:

  • Create a Family Media Plan
  • Designate media-free family time together (hint: dinner and car rides are a great place to start)
  • Identify rooms in the home where media is not permitted (i.e. dining room, bathrooms, bedrooms)

A bonus not included in the AAP recommendations: create a system in which screen time is earned.

Example: 30 minutes of reading or some media-free family activity in exchange for 30 minutes of screen time or 15 minutes using an educational app/game in exchange for 15 minutes of an entertainment app/game or social medial.

What are your thoughts about the AAP’s new guidelines and what’s realistic for your household?

Photo Credit: ana_gr2 Flickr via Compfight cc