Screen Time Boundaries

Advice for parents and carers with children aged 0 to 7.

When it comes to children and technology, parents and carers have long been asking the same question:

How much screen time is OK for my child?

The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) have set out guidelines relating to time boundaries which take into account modern family life, the different types of technology that children come into contact with on a daily basis, and the huge variety of positive ways in which media can be used at home. Screen time incorporates the use of TVs, DVDs, on-demand services, portable handheld gaming devices and consoles, mobile phones, tablets and laptops to name a few.

Trying to actively count or keep track of screen time hours can be problematic and raise anxiety levels unnecessarily. Instead, the AAP have recommened forming a family media plan that takes into account the health, education and entertainment needs of each child as well as the whole family. Our Childnet family agreement could help you to start this plan and create family guidelines for using tech. 

Professor Sonia Livingstone from the Department of Media and Communications at LSE comments on screen time, stating that,

“Rather than worrying about the fairly meaningless notion of ‘screen time’ it might be better to support parents, many of whom are ‘digital natives’ themselves, in deciding whether, when and why particular digital activities help or harm their child, and what to do about it."

Top Tips to get you started:

Although a one-size-fits-all solution would arguably be unrealistic, there are lots of simple things you can do as a parent/ carer to ensure that you feel confident about your child’s interaction with technology, and set achievable goals that work for your family.

Read our top tips:

1. Use digital devices together

Get involved in your child’s online activities. Have fun, play games and learn together online, just as you would in the physical world. It will then be natural for your child to turn to you if they experience anything upsetting online.

2. Set clear expectations

Clear family rules can help your child have a positive start to their digital life and get the most out of being online. Ask your child to help create some family rules.

3. Be informed

Many digital devices, services and content providers offer a range of parental controls. You can choose the type of content and options that are suitable for your child. 

4. Establish good habits early on

Both adults and children enjoy sharing moments with family and friends through online images and videos. Starting conversations and good habits early on is a great way to support children in staying safe online.

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