A new study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found a direct association between screen time at ages 2 and 3 and development at 3 and 5. In fact, another recent study found that only 5% of U.S. children meet the recommended daily guidelines for sleep, exercise, and screen time use. How can we fix the problem?
Vinay Saranga M.D. is a child psychiatrist and founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry.
His advice for parents:
- Exercise daily: Children should have at least one hour of moderate exercise per day. Lack of physical activity in children is just one of the reasons obesity is an epidemic in America. Make exercise a family event by going on a walk or playing outdoors. Encourage your children to get involved with sports and activities. Take them to the local playground for a fun, free way to stay active.
- Limit screen time: Limit children to only two hours of screen time per day max. Keep in mind that many children are exceeding that recommendation by an alarming rate. Overstimulation can lead to physical and mental health problems in your child from obesity to depression and ADHD. Save television and video games for the weekend as a treat.
- Encourage alternatives: To cutout screen time, encourage your children to engage in other activities such as reading, board games, drawing, playing with appropriate age toys and good old-fashioned playtime with a sibling or friend.
- Make meal time family time: Many families keep the television on during dinner. Try turning it off and encourage conversation. Use the time to connect with your children, find out about their day, how school is going, who their friends are, etc. This will also help strengthen the bond between parents and their kids.
- Keep bedrooms device free: A great way to eliminate screen time is to ban the use of smartphones, tablets and other similar electronic devices from your children’s bedrooms. Even chargers should be off limits. The bedroom should be that special place where your kids go to relax, unwind and sleep.
- Be a role model: If you want your kids to reduce their screen time then you must model this behavior as well. Children, especially younger ones, follow the example set by their parents. If you want your kids to spend less time with their electronics, then you must do the same.