Best Practices for Screen Time Management for Young Children

Best Practices for Screen Time Management for Young Children
Screen time management ideas to help you connect with your child and limit technology use in a positive way.

For most kids, summer is a time of freedom – from classrooms, strict schedules and the general humdrum of the school year. But summer also means more screen time.

Time on gaming devices, tablets and other gadgets can sometimes get in the way of how kids engage with the (real) world around them.

Now that we’re already more than a month into the summer season, it’s a great time to check in with your kids and ensure they’re interacting with their peers and participating in activities that don’t always revolve around technology.

A recent ASHA survey reported that the average American child, age eight and younger, uses more than three personal technology devices at home, including tablets, smartphones and video game consoles.

With so much access to technology in today’s world, utilizing strategies to encourage social and verbal interaction over screen time is imperative, though that doesn’t mean cutting out screens entirely.

Here are a few ways to help kids (and the whole family) develop a healthy technological balance for the rest of the summer and all year long:

Make tech use a family affair.

Technology itself is not necessarily a problem, but how it’s being used and what it takes away from on a daily basis. For instance, does it take time away from reading or physical activity? Is it interfering with the quality or quantity of conversation between parents and children (as many parents report)?

To help kids maintain time for real human engagement, try using technology with your child-whether that’s looking up information on the computer together or playing a game with them.

That way you’re giving your child the opportunity to interact and keep the lines of communication open, while doing something they love.

Dedicate tech-free times at home.

Try experimenting with setting daily limits on your child’s screen use and finding opportunities for the entire family to disconnect together. Parents who work in the technology industry (who know technology best) already do this and appreciate the tech-free time. (See more tips for setting limits here)

In a 2018 ASHA survey of these parents, 68 percent of respondents said they set device time limits for their children at home, while nearly 75 percent restrict tech use at the dinner table, social events and similar gatherings.

Taking those moments to talk and connect with your child could be something you build into a regular routine.

Lead by example.

Perhaps one of the best and easiest ways to keep your kids engaged and lower-tech this summer is to model the kind of behavior you’d like to see in them.

Kids learn by example-and the biggest example they’ll see regarding technology use will come from you. Demonstrating your own commitment to carving out offline time and pursuing other interests will set the tone for the entire family’s screen use.

Summertime is the greatest time of the year for most kids, but leisure time and tech time shouldn’t be one in the same.

Implementing small, but impactful ways to moderate kids’ technology use in favor of human interaction, whether at home, on vacation or out in the community, can help set them up for a successful future.

Information and text provided by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 198,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders.

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