Children of all ages are interacting with electronic devices at earlier ages and most are very familiar with things like tablets, smartphones and TVs by the time they are in preschool and grade school. It is very important that parents set limits and know what their children are watching or playing and how they are interacting on the internet. Children still need to get plenty of exercise and unstructured play time alone or with friends. Most of a baby’s brain development happens in the first two years of life. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time at all under the age of 18 months (with an exception for video chatting remote family members). From 18-24 months toddlers can begin a small amount of screen time with a caregiver and for ages 2-3 children should still be limited to watch no more than an hour per day. When screen time occurs in this age group it is best if it is interactive with a caregiver.
Smartphones and social media have become an integral part of the life of a teenager (and sometimes for kids even younger). Related to smartphone use, there are increasing concerns for rising anxiety, depression, reduced sleep, poor communication and general stress in our young people. We need our children to be aware of cyberbullying and possible online predators. Did you know many teenagers have secondary hidden social media accounts? Or that many download apps that appear as a calculator or similar function but can actually share inappropriate pictures? We encourage parents to educate themselves on programs their children are using and to set limits at home where there are electronic -free zones, such as the bedroom and at meal times.
We encourage families to have a contract for smartphone use at home. You can see examples here: