Our kids, and children’s Media Addiction

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We all know that screens have become a part of our daily life, and our children’s life either, as they represent a fine tool for children’s education, entertainment, and social development. But for how long should a kid be exposed to screens daily? At what age? In what ways this exposure affects them? What solutions, and treatments in case my kid got addicted to screens? These, and so many other questions will be discussed in this post.

As said, when we talk about kids, it is understood that electronic devices (Phones, tablets, computers) are a must! However, there should be some rules and exceptions that govern children’s screen exposure. The first of these rules, is related to your kid’s age!

At what age can my kid get some screen time?

All expert’s recommendations state …. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), states that babies and toddlers under 18 months, shouldn’t be exposed to screens at all. In the exception of video chatting with parents or grandparents, or other family members. Above 18 months, toddlers can have some screen time, from 10 to 20 minutes, in the presence of an adult. By age 2, kids can have till 1 hour/day, of healthy, and high-quality educational content.

For how long can a kid be exposed to screens?

Managing screen time for kids can be difficult and challenging, but only if they are used to spend unregular time in front of screens. That is a mistake most parents make. Instead, parents should manage and program screen time from stage zero! But it is never too late to make a screen time plan for the kids.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Here are the recommendations for kid’s screen time:

Until 18 months: no screen time, except for video chatting.

-From 18 months to 24 months: Very limited screen time, and only educational programs, with parent’s assistance.

-For 2-5 years old kids: 1 hour per day of non-educational screen time, and up to 3 hours during the weekends.

-For 6 years old children: Limit screen time, and enforce healthy learning (pintables, crafts, Montessori activities, etc.)

In what ways too much screen exposure affects children?

Every parent should be aware that too much screen time, and repetitive exposure to low quality screen content, have many repercussions on kid’s education, health, and well-being.

Many problems and disorders have been linked to kids much screen time. We will state here only some of them:

1-      Behavior problems.

2-       Alteration or delays in social skills.

3-      Attention, and focusing issues.

4-      Sleeping disorders.

5-      Weight problems.

Other than these serious issues, kids can be exposed to malicious and negative content such as:

1-      Sexual content.

2-      Challenging videos, and games, that might lead to dangerous behaviors.

3-      Violent content.

4-      Corrupt or misleading information.

All these issues, are the result of two facts:

          Too much screen time for children.

          Parent’s assistance absence during screen time.

What solutions, and treatments for children media addiction?

Parents surely get frustrated and lost when the know for a fact that their kid is a screen addict! But don’t worry, as every other addiction, kid’s screen time addiction can be a matter of the past, if parents follow these tips elaborated by experts.

First, do not cut it all at once! It really hurts your kids more, when you just deprive them totally of something the used to do or have, everyday! As in every addiction, Weaning is the first strategy to fight it. After limiting progressively, the amount of time dedicated daily for screens, it will be easy to say then; “We are not having any device today”.

Second, do not get too frustrated when our kid screams hysterically after taking off the device away! If screen time ends, you should take the device away gently, and don’t give it back! As Jenny Radesky, M.D, professor of Pediatrics in the university of Michigan says; “If you’re intermittently rewarding your children’s request for prolonged media time and they know Mom might say ‘yes,’ future transitions are likely to be rockier”. If your gids still going hysteric, stay calm, and walk away!

Another measure that can help reduce the addiction, is to turn off the auto-display option from videos in frequent visited apps, as YouTube, Netflix, etc.

Also, do not attempt to end kid’s screen time session, when they are in the middle of a playing a video game, or during a video, wait until it ends.

Experts also recommend to give children warnings of when the screen time session will end. It can be 10 mins before the session’s end. This helps the child to be psychologically prepared to let it go. 

Last thing, do not forget to use parental controls to monitor what you kids are using or watching online.

However, if you have done all these measures, and your kid’s condition is the same or getting worse, do not hesitate to seek professional help. 

Finally, these are some key takeaways for parents while
dealing with screen time:

1-      No screens before 18 months.

2-      Parent’s assistance during screen time is a must.

3-      No devices during meals, or before sleeping.

4-      Learn and use parental controls

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