Screen Time

For a long time now it has been conventional wisdom to limit child screen time to just two hours a day. By no less an authority than the American Academy of pediatrics.

“Children and teens should engage in entertainment media for no more than one or two hours a day, and that should be high-quality content.”

Until recently I agreed and felt that meant turn off screens after two hours, but over the last few years I have really begun to question the wisdom of these limitation. Certainly the lack of activity will have a harmful effect on the physical health of our children. There is no argument with that our children need exercise, I need more exercise.  So I am not saying children should be allowed to sit in a chair 8 or 10 hours a day.

The qualifier of “entertainment” might mean I totally agree with the recommendation. It all depends on your definition of limiting to entertainment media means.

I’ve explained it this way to my children and am working on making the implementation more rigorous.

If you are just sitting watching something to have fun, you are being entertained and that should be limited to less than two hours a day. If you searched for a video to learn how to do something that doesn’t count. If you are building something specific in Minecraft, that is not entertainment. If you are doing homework, that is not entertainment. However, that doesn’t give you free rein to spend all day on the computer.

A requirement is that you spend at least two hours a day in intentional exercise, playing a physical game like kickball, running, walking around the block, or anything that includes strong physical activity.

My children probably still spend too much time in sedentary activities (I certainly do), but they don’t spend too much time being entertained.(well maybe)

The next step is to integrate more hands-on learning activities. We can’t just say to our children, “stop watching TV”, we have to replace that time and entertainment with something just as engaging.  Education research shows that including that tactile element really helps children gain an intuitive understanding of math and science. When children learn they can have as much fun with hands on activities they are more likely to choose them as an activity.  so we can kill two birds with one stone by using hands-on learning at home, learning is fun and just plain learning.


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