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 Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) have produced guidance for screen time use of under-18s. Following research into this area, they have advised that no set amount of time is nesassary to adhere to but that devices should not replace sleep, exercise or family time. They advise that devices should be avoided in the hour before bed to promote healthy sleep and have provided the following checklist to help parents and carers make decisions about their family's screen time use:

  • Is your family's screen time under control?
  • Does screen use interfere with what your family want to do?
  • Does screen use interfere with sleep?
  • Are you able to control snacking during screen time?

Dr Russel Viner, President of the RCPCH comments on screen time, stating that, 

"One size doesn't fit all, parents need to think about what's useful and helpful for their child."
"Parents should consider their own use of screens, if screen time is controlled in their family, and if excessive use is affecting their child's development and everyday life."

Trying to actively count or keep track of screen time hours can be problematic and raise anxiety levels unnecessarily. Instead, forming a family media plan that takes into account screen time, when and where devices are accessible and what content can be accessed will be beneficial for the whole family. Our Childnet family agreement could help you to start this plan and create family guidelines for using tech. 

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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