By Patrick Moody, spokesman for Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital
While TV might keep your child busy, that screen time could come at the expense of other, more important activities.
For example, it might be better for your child to use that time being active or visiting with family and friends.
Here’s a few tips for parents:
To help make your child’s media experiences positive, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips:
- Know when: Much of a child’s brain develops in the first two years of life. That’s when he or she learns a good deal of language and social skills. Time spent in front of a TV can take away from these important activities. For children younger than 18 months, it is ideal to avoid screen time. From 18 to 24 months, you can introduce limited, high-quality content. But always watch it together.
- Set limits: For ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen time to one hour a day. Choose high-quality, educational content that you can watch together. If possible, do not allow TV sets, video games, or computers in your child’s bedroom.
- Be choosy: Avoid turning on the TV and watching whatever is on. Instead, plan out good shows for your child to watch. Look at TV listings and TV ratings to help you select the right shows for your child’s age. Use the same care when choosing movies—both rentals and those in the theater—and video and computer games. Look at ratings and read reviews.
- Watch Together: Take part in your child’s TV, movie, video game and computer time, whenever possible. Then talk about what you see and hear. This is especially vital while your child is very young and can’t tell the difference between shows, commercials, cartoons and reality.
- Offer Options: Encourage them to read a book, play, be active or color. Reading together is always a great use of time.
- Set an Example: Kids learn by watching you. So be a role model. Limit your own screen time, and be choosy about the things you watch.
Information from the study cited above appeared in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology. Patrick Moody is the director of marketing and public relations at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. For more information about local community health programs, visit HenryMayo.com.