What’s the right amount of screen time for you child?

I recently took all of my kids to the doctor for well-child check ups. The doctor had me fill out the usual paperwork, while my kids had their height, weight, ears and eyes checked. When the doctor asked me questions about my kids eating habits and physical activity, I felt like a pretty stellar mom, but then she asked me this:

“How much time do your kids spend in front of screens per day?”

I felt a pit in my stomach, and suddenly I felt like a bad mom.

I know that kids should not spend a lot of time plugged into their devices (phone, tablet, iPod, Xbox, Wii, computer, television, etc.), but there are so many good excuses for excessive screen time.

This is what my kids say: It’s winter. It’s cold outside. It gets dark really early. I’m worn out from a long day of school. I need my smartphone to communicate with my friends. There is nothing else to do. I have to use the computer to do my homework. I want to play Xbox with my friends.

My kids come up with a lot of reasons to be in front of a screen.

If it was just a kid problem, I think us moms (and dads) could handle it. My real problem, is me (the parent). I am worn out. I want to relax. I need to check my email, my text, my social media, etc. I am bored.

Unplugging is hard. It’s hard for all of us.

The doctor advised me to limit screen time to two hours (or less) per day (not including school assignments). The Mayo clinic and numerous other health websites also suggest the same.

Finding balance is a challenge, but it’s important. These retired educators agree, and have been visiting schools to talk to students about limiting their screen time.

My new goal is limiting screen time to two hours (or less) per day. There are a lot of days we don’t exceed two hours, but now I have a doctor’s excuse to unplug and turn it off. I think we will be spending more time at the public library, playing board games and cooking together.

How much time do your kids spend in front of a screen?

How about yourself?

What does your family do instead of screen time?


Melanie Flake

Melanie Flake

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