We all know that The American Academy Of Pediatrics does not suggest any screen time before the age of 2 years old! What I find so funny is many families we service are in a state of shock! Today, families are resorting to screen and television time at extreme rates. Can we remember when children were entertained without it? I sure do! We know, you say well what do I do with my children, then you say does it really matter what they watch? Then you ask what if it is a children’s show, because there are so many of those now.  Sorry to burst the bubble, all are the same and it is not healthy for brain development. We are going to explain to you why and hope that you will rethink your ideologies. Trust, it is only difficult because we see it everywhere today, even in our home we make a conscious habit of turning it off.  So let’s jump right in!

Photo Credit: Imagery Majestics

According to The New Yorker, by The American Academy Of Pediatrics “Since the AAP made its original recommendations in 1999, passive entertainment screens — televisions, DVD players, computers streaming video — have become ubiquitous, and the average 12-month-old gets between one and two hours of screen time per day. (Interactive screens, such as iPads and other tablets, are considered in the new recommendations.) The 0 – to 2-year age group has become a prime target for commercial educational programming, often used by parents convinced that it’s beneficial”. This should say a lot to your family! Whoa, who would have thought? So why are so many families engaging in excessive screen time and how do we fix it?

  1. Screens are not to be used as rewards or punishment – Doing this will allow your children to feel as if it is more important, it should not be an important object in your home. This also gives you as a parent time to see where else you can stop using certain items as reward or punishment. Allowing it to be seen as a sometimes event will maximize the conversation, while your family engages in any screen time. Use this time to communicate with your child, ask questions, what do they like or dislike? How are their emotions while watching?  If age-appropriate you can even discuss TV ads and commercials and get an understanding of your child’s thought process.
  2. Allow children to problem solve, and entertain themselves – Did you know that even an infant can be allowed time to entertain themselves? Learning problem solving and enhancing cognitive skills is a life lesson for your child. According to Dr. Ari Brown, media, even in the background distracts infants and toddlers from play. There have been studies proven that language development can be diminished and developmental delays may become present.  Children’s brains grow profoundly in the first 5 years of life. The issues come when children can be learning how to interact and engage and we do not allow it.  Proven fact, is that a paren speaks about 940 words per hour to their small children and with screens even in the background that number drops between 600-700. Do you want to take those risks with your children? If you are what you eat, then you are what your brain experiences a philosopher once said. Even though infants and toddlers stare, their brain is incapable of making the connections and sense of what is going on with screen time.
  3. Make all meal times, family time – This can be such a lifelong lesson in your home, use the time to engage in physical touch, use eye contact, positive words and modeling behavior. This also allows you the on-on-one time with your child to get to understand and know them better. Doing this will help with language and self-compassion.   Try not to create separation in your home just for screen use.

Photo Credit: Imagery Majestics


—Jessica Howard, Little Pnuts Educational Play BloggerFounder and CEO of Kid’s Night Out Parent’s Night Off in NYC.