I was recently told by my son’s pediatrician that we watch an abnormally low amount of TV in our household. We generally make our 9 year old son do chores to earn the privilege of screen time and apparently we’re oddballs for that. It kind of shocked me when the pediatrician told us that most kids these days have about 2 hours worth of screen time per day. Screen time can of course consist of learning-oriented activities, but what I’m talking about is the unstructured kind of screen time that a child does independently (vs with the family) - whether that be watching videos, shows, or playing non-educational video games.
We don’t have any modern video game systems (still rocking the Super NES) and try to keep the TV off unless we’re actively watching it (vs background noise.) We do have satellite TV (which we plan to cut out of our budget soon) and a few streaming services. We’re certainly not against screen time, we just don’t allow it unless responsibilities have been taken care of first…and often that means no screen time because the responsibilities haven’t been completed. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
We of course have gotten consistent complaints from our son, but I wrote it off as, “Yeah, well if your friends’ parents jumped off a cliff, you think your Dad and I would too?” but once we were pressed by his pediatrician, I started wondering how “out there” are we really?
I’m curious how others are handling screen time in their homes. Does 2 hours sound about right? Do you withhold screen time as a privilege or am I really that far out from the curve? If 2 hours does sound about right, when is that screen time occurring? And are you watching it together as a family or are your children primarily watching shows/videos/playing video games on their own?
How many hours do your kids have screen time per day (on a consistent basis)?
- Rarely on school days
- About 30 min each day throughout the week
- More than 30 min but less than 1 hour each day throughout the week
- More than 1 hour but less than 2 hours each day throughout the week
- More than 2 hours each day throughout the week
When does screen time usually occur in your house?
- Pretty much only on the weekends
- Before school most mornings
- After school most afternoons
- Most evenings
- On in the background throughout the day/evening
Also for reference in case anyone is wondering, I looked up the latest AAP guidelines and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:
- For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
- For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
- For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
- Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
- Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.