This month the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced new media use recommendations for children. One of the biggest changes includes lifting the "no screen time for children under 2" rule. Now, using FaceTime or video chatting is with children under 18 months is acceptable under the new guidelines. Other recommendations include watching programming with your child and creating "media free" times in your schedule.
Media itself is hard to limit in our technology driven world. Some technologies are very helpful to children and there is supporting research that media use can help with early learning literacy and social skills. While I am a big supporter of high-quality children's programming, I am also an advocate for Mindful Media Time. Mindful Media Time means carefully selecting what you and your child watch. It also means being present with your child as they watch so you can explain what they see and incorporate what you watch into other areas of your life. However, it's very easy to engage in "mindless" media use. This is when the TV is on as background noise, or when we don't have a good understanding of what we're watching or why.
Whether mindful or mindless, it is hard to limit media time when you already have established media routines that exceed the recommendations. If you want to change your media use habits, the first step you should take is to understand your preexisting routine. Take a week to track your time - where does it all go? Print and fill out the time use template below or go over to HealthyChildren.org and fill in their media tracker.
After you have an understanding of how often you use media, then you can make small meaningful changes to cut down your media use.
For example, I took a look at my time use and found that I jump on the computer to check e-mail and social media the moment I come home from work. So I made a new rule: no computer until I do 30 minutes of something else - anything else! Some days I log on right after that 30 minutes, but most days I find that I'm enjoying my non-screen time activity so much that I continue to do it. This seems to magically create hours of screen-free time in my afternoon!
How do you limit your screen time and your child's screen time? Comment below with your tips and tricks!