LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – A new report shows screen time for children under the age of two has doubled since 1997 and spent in front of the T.V. is still the number one reason why.
Local experts say that’s something to pay attention to. And while they acknowledge it may be difficult to cut out screens all together, because they are all around us, it’s important that parents monitor what kids are consuming on those screens, not just how long they sit in front of them. One way you can do that is by watching together, picking educational and age appropriate videos, and then talking to your child about what they learned.
“I don’t think that happens,” remarked Jeff Reiland, a behavioral health therapist with Gundersen Health System. “I think that very often when the child is busy watching something, that frankly probably isn’t as interesting to the parent, that the parent slips away to get something else done. So then the child is watching something that perhaps parents aren’t as familiar with.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics says excessive screen time has been linked to cognitive, speech and social and emotional delays, probably because screen time decreases the time kids could spend interacting with parents.
Because of this, the recommendation from the AAP is that kids under 18 months avoid screens all together. Kids between 18 months and two years of age should watch only high-quality programming while co-viewing, and then it bumps up to just one hour per day for kids two to five years old.
Reiland recommends to families that he works with that they use screen time when they need it. “That they use the screen time, for example, when they’re getting dinner going. And it’s not just something that’s used for recreational purposes or they have a rule around screen time happening as a special thing. After we’ve done our chores, after we’ve done our homework, the work of the day, playing with each other, having that family time.”
Reiland says he gives families those guidelines because screen time doesn’t generally come out of children’s sleep time it instead takes away from the time they may have spent interacting with other family members.