It is hard to imagine life without TV, computers, tablets and smartphones. We use them in work, play and school. Children are also interested in these “toys” at a very early age. Try to protect babies and toddlers from screen time. They learn best from real-life play and conversations. As your child gets older, you may decide to allow her to use electronic devices. You can help her use these devices safely and wisely by setting limits and knowing how the devices are being used.
Set Limits on Screen Time
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you:
- Keep children 18 months and younger away from TV, videos and computer games.
- Limit older children and teens to 1 or 2 hours of screen time a day.
- Keep TVs, computers and tablets out of your child’s bedroom.
- Shut the TV off during dinner and when you’re not watching it.
Learn more about screen time recommendations from the AAP.
Be a Role Model
If your child sees you watching TV or playing on your phone, she will want to do the same. Be a good role model for your child and limit your own technology use. The steps you take now will teach your child how to manage technology throughout her life.
THINGS YOU CAN DO
Know What Your Child Is Watching
- Don’t let your child see a show or use an app just because the ads look OK. Review it yourself and ask “What will my child learn from this?”
- Talk about the ads you see. Help your child learn to say “No” to advertising. To learn more, see Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.
- Sit with your child as she explores a new app or program.
- Find apps and programs that make your child think, ask questions and discover new information.
- Do activities together, like calling grandparents with Skype, looking at digital photos and reading e-books.
- Learn about using technology to connect with your child from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center.
Use the Ratings
- Use a show’s ratings to learn if it is suitable for your child’s age. Violence in shows and games can lead to nightmares and aggressive behavior.
- Find ratings at Common Sense Media.
The First Things First Parent Kit was developed in partnership with Health Research for Action/UC Berkeley. © 2016 The Regents of the University of California. Additional video, graphic and other content © 2017 First Things First. All rights reserved.