Managing Your Child’s Digital Media Use

| Posted On Feb 10, 2020 | By:

 “Life was so simple when apples and blackberries were fruit, a tweet was the sound of nature, and facebooks were photo albums.” ~ Carl A. Henegan

Teen on couch with a tabletFor parents, nowhere is this truer than their family’s relationship with its “screens,” the myriad of devices in our lives that have the power to connect and entertain us but also to consume and distract us. The amount of time we as a society spend plugged in or glued to these devices is staggering, and for parents, the question I hear time and again is, “What can I do about my child’s use of them?” My reply often begins with a dose of reality: screens and digital media use are not going away. They are an integral part of work, school and home for most of us. They do have value, but it’s important to establish boundaries and limitations early on, and I find families struggle when they haven’t done that. So how much screen time is right for your children? And how can you develop some good screen habits in your household? Below are some guidelines and tips to get you started.

Screen Time Use by the Ages

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has created guidelines for digital media use, which I have summarized below by age. These guidelines were developed with the best evidence-based information we have to balance the benefits of digital media use (early learning, exposure to new ideas and knowledge, access to information, and opportunities for positive social contact and support) with the risks they can pose to the health and wellness of children, particularly: on sleep, attention, and learning; a higher incidence of obesity and depression; exposure to inaccurate, inappropriate, or unsafe content and contacts; and compromised privacy and confidentiality

Tips for Managing the Use of Screens

For our youngest children, managing screen time, quality as well as quantity, is a bit more straightforward as they usually do not have a device of their own. Consider these tips for your household:

Again, things get a little trickier as children get older and not only have access to the family TVs and gaming machines but to their own devices (smartphones, computers for school, tablets and e-readers, etc.). Some things you can consider:

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About Dr. Brittanny Boulanger

Joined Harvard Vanguard: 2005 Undergraduate School: Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH Medical School: University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA Internship: Golisano Children's Hospital, Rochester, NY Residency: Golisano Children's Hospital, Rochester, NY Board Certification: Pediatrics Hospital Affiliations: Children's Hospital, Boston, MA; Winchester Hospital, Winchester, MA Clinical Interests: Newborn medicine and adolescent medicine Personal Interests: Running, soccer, hiking, skiing, travel and spending time with her two young children.