The American Academy of Pediatricians has recently updated recommended screen times for children. Previously, no screen time was recommended for children 2 years old and under. Now, the AAP states that “no screen time is impractical since the advent of tablets and other devices that are a part of daily life and provide education benefit.”
While it’s true that technology is useful for educational purposes, it doesn’t mean that screen time is absolutely necessary. It’s up to parents to set clear rules when it comes to screen time guidance.
In my practice, I see firsthand how screen time is constantly used as a way to pacify some of my youngest patients. My older patients are often not aware how rude it is to be texting or using screen time when they are being interviewed. I’m the one generally asking the child or teen to put it away when we speak, not the parents, which concerns me because most people are on their best behavior at the doctor’s office. Many patients are also not sleeping enough because of too much screen time. They are more sedentary. It’s a formula for isolation and obesity. It’s frightening.
My girlfriend has a middle grader and she walked through campus over lunch the other day and said “No one was talking. Boys were gaming next to each other and girls were posting selfies on social media.”
Technology is here to stay, but I make firm rules regarding the use of it at my house. If not for homework, my daughter has to ask permission before using technology. The computer in our home is right in the kitchen so I can easily see what is going on while I’m distracted preparing dinner. No technology at the table or during meals, including TV. And to set an example, I have to follow with my own cell phone getting a time-out in the charger.
As parents, we have to follow suit. We need to show our children that they are more important than technology. And on a side note: Make sure to silence your phone or leave it in the car during church service. Mine went off last week in the middle of the priest’s sermon on how we are all getting too caught up with technology!