Bringing children into the world brings organized chaos to your life. There are things they do on a regular basis, like eat and sleep - and things we cannot regulate at all, like moods, personalities and learning curves. There is one certainty - they will keep growing and changing, especially when you think you’ve figured them out.
As parents, we struggle to manage the unmanageable. We try to get them to go to bed at a certain hour, we try to get them to eat at dinner time and we try to get them to want healthy foods.
In the middle of all that trying comes another interruption to their cycles: technology. It entertains the cranky, exercises the brain and distracts, separating the user from the world outside the screen. It’s a gift and a burden.
Recently, the Washington Post wrote an excellent article on kids and screentime. In short, just as we carefully monitor their diets for a balance of good food and the occasional treat, absorption of a healthy media diet is in order too.
It doesn’t take a scientific study to know that there are times to turn off the television and go get some playful exercise outdoors (but there are many). But as iPads have turned into flipbooks for three year olds and texting is more than just a game to many teenagers, it can become hard to judge just how much time spent on these devices is time well spent.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has some great guidelines they’ve researched when it comes to the media intake of children. When it comes to hard facts and numbers, here’s what we learned from writer Kendall Powell:
Develop a family media plan and stick to it!
●Enforce consistent rules about screen time from the start.
●Keep all screens and Internet out of the bedroom.
●Impose meal time restrictions and bedtime curfews for everyone’s devices (yours too!).
●Watch or explore media content with children.
While wrangling the chaos of a household is hard (to put it mildly), managing a little more of what goes into the heads and hands of little ones can produce happier, healthier children. And that’s an effort well worth making.
Originally published 4/3/14 on diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com.