If you are a mom of little ones, then I’m assuming you love them more than you can even describe and you really want them to succeed.
I’m also assuming that there are times you have felt completely exhausted and “done.” And it’s possible that you might’ve used screens to get you through these rough times. And maybe you’ve felt guilty about using too much screen time. And you might wonder if you’re ruining your kids by giving them too much screen time.
Well, here’s the thing. The American Academy of Pediatrics has provided a set of guidelines to help you navigate screen time with your kids. BUT, please keep this in mind: your situation is unique and there are a lot of factors that will impact how you choose to use screens (your personality, your kids’ personality, the age gap between your kids, your physical health, your mental health, your financial situation, your living situation, etc).
Here are the official AAP guidelines for screen time and kids and some practical ways to apply them to your situation.
What are the screen time guidelines for kids?
Children Age 0-18 Months
All screen time is discouraged except for video chatting.
Children Age 18-24 Months
If you do choose to introduce screens you should choose “high-quality programming/apps and use them together with children” (see healthychildren.org). Children should not use screens by themselves.
Children Older than 2 Years Old
“Limit screen use to no more than 1 hour or less per day of high-quality programming. Co-view or co-play with your children, and find other activities for to do together that are healthy for the body and mind (e.g., reading, teaching, talking, and playing together)” (see healthychildren.org).
“Children should not sleep with devices in their bedrooms…” (see healthychildren.org).
Practical Ways to Apply the AAP Screen Time Guidelines to Your Situation
Now that you know the basic guidelines for kids and screen time you might be thinking, “but what about when my toddler is watching a show and my baby is also there?” or “it’s not realistic for me to always watch the show with my 18-month-old– the whole reason I turn on a show for him is so I can get a break.”
Well, let’s talk about some practical ways to apply these guidelines to your unique situation.
My number 1 tip for someone that is feeling overwhelmed by screen time is to take the ABC’s of Screen Time course from Tech-wise Littles. It teaches you WHY these guidelines are given which then helps you be more informed so you can make your own decisions to fit your situation.
2. Consider your values
Take some time to consider what is important to you. You probably value many things, but think about the 2-3 things are most important to you. You might value a happy family, educated kids, a connection with your kids, your mental health, your kids’ mental health.
3. Note how you are already following these guidelines
Start by taking some time to think about how you usually use screen time. Note which parts of the guidelines you are already adhering to.
4. Think about ways that your regular habits do not align with the AAP guidelines
Is there any part of your typical day-to-day life that isn’t in line with these guidelines? Write those down.
5. Determine the reasons you aren’t following those specific parts of the guidelines
Looking at your list from step 3, think about WHY you aren’t following those specific guidelines. Is it out of habit? Is it because you need your toddler to leave you alone while you nurse his baby sister?
6. Decide if it is worth it to you to try to make a change at this time
Now that you’ve taken a deeper look at your screen time habits and situation, YOU get to decide if it’s worth it to you to change the way you handle screen time. If you need help doing this, ABC’s of Screen Time provides science-backed, easy-to-use tips to make tech work best for YOUR family.
7. Join the Mindful with Media community
Sign up for my email list to get simple solutions sent straight to your inbox. I’ll also let you know about upcoming workshops to help you navigate this tricky world of tech as a young mom.
Life as a young mom is overwhelming with all these voices telling you how you’re supposed to raise your kids. These 7 steps will help you make educated screen time decisions that are right for your family at this time. (If you are looking for more resources and guidelines about screen time check out this post).
Ultimately, you are the only one that knows what is best for you and your family!