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Screen Time and Your Child's Mental Health

Smartphones and portable devices have increased screen time and media consumption. According to the CDC, [children], today spend an average of 7.5 hours per day "using media, materials, or technological devices Each week in my private practice, I receive inquiries from parents and caregivers who want to know how this much access is impacting the mental health of their children. With the world at their literal fingertips, it is easy to understand why children are spending so much time connected to their devices.

In this week's episode of the Notes From A Child Psychologist Podcast, we discuss the American Psychological Association's (APAs) recommendation on screen time for children and insights that I've gained over the years working with parents and caregivers. Lastly, we end the episode with strategies that you can use to manage screen time based on your parenting values.

Here are a few highlights from the episode!

What is the APAs recommendation around screen time for children?

The APA's recommendations are based on research that considers a child's age and development. In general, children two years and younger should avoid screen time with the exception of using video to connect to loved ones. School-age children can benefit from high-quality educational programming; however, research has found that children receive a higher quality of learning with instruction by a parent or caregiver.

For older children (6+), it is important that screen time not be a substitute for other activities such as exercise, sleep, and bonding with friends and family. Regardless of the child's age, screen time should be limited and monitored by an adult.

What to do when your child objects to rules around screen time?

With younger generations, there is no such thing as a "time before screens, "This creates Big Emotions as parents try to limit access to devices. In this episode, I share several strategies that parents and caregivers can use to create rules around screen time and monitor the types of media that their children consume.

Objections will come -especially with older children; however, it's vital that adults maintain consistent rules and opportunities to discuss the rules with their children. These open lines of communication are key.

How to use your parenting values to create your family's framework around screen time

In each episode, I encourage parents and caregivers to take the information shared and apply them to their parenting values. Your parenting values provide an overall framework that dictates how you apply any information around parenting your children. For this episode, your values will dictate how you handle social media time, gaming time, and access to devices. For more information on The Parenting Values Workshop, consider registering for our upcoming workshop.

There are many positives to monitoring access to screen time for children. Unmonitored screen time can lead to sleep deprivation, obesity, physical and mental health problems. Parents and caregivers have the right to set guidelines about how much time children spend on devices.


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