Any and all screen time – whether in the form of TV, computer, or iPad – is strongly discouraged for children under age 2 by pediatricians and child development experts. Yet babies and toddlers are spending more time with this media than ever before. Nearly half of all kids under two-years-old watch television every day, and preschool age kids have an average of four hours of daily screen time.
Why the disconnect?
Well-intentioned parents are readily tuning their children into “educational” programming like Baby Einstein on a regular basis. Many more routinely use TV as an assist to keep kids occupied during the evening crunch to get dinner on the table. It is also common for families to have the TV on as background entertainment whether it’s being actively watched or not.
What effect does all this screen time have?
Recent research has shown that limiting screen time cultivates healthy brain development in infants and young children. Too much time in front of TV, DVDs and iPads is over stimulating for your child. This has a negative impact on how her brain developments and can increase her risk for problems such as ADHD. Excessive screen-time is also linked to poor school performance and childhood obesity.
What can we do?
To help families break the cycle and turn-off screens, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) is urging everyone to participate in Screen-Free Week, April 30 through May 6. The idea is to use this time as a media detox, get re-acquainted with family, and establish new habits for recreational time. Use Screen-Free Week as a start to your families’ new commitment to a healthier lifestyle all year round. Read, get outside, do an art project, just be present with quality face-to-face time with your child.
Need more ideas for what to do with the kids during all this new free time? Print out this More Things To Do Instead Of Turning On The TV flyer.