DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My daughter is turning 7 in a few months, and I am considering getting a tablet for her, especially given the increase in online learning. However, I’m unsure if this is good for her growth and development, and I don’t want her spending all her time on it. Are there ways to balance screen time while still creating a healthy home environment?
ANSWER: Children are spending more time online with hybrid and distance learning thanks to COVID-19. The good news is that there are ways to balance your child’s screen time while also creating a healthy home environment. However, it is important that you take the steps needed to monitor screen time, and allow for physical activity and critical thinking.
Electronics are a prevalent part of everyday personal and school life in today’s culture, which is fine, but there are health benefits related to reducing screen time, such as improved physical health, decreased obesity, and more time to play and explore.
It is important to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under 2, one hour per day for children 2 to 12, and two hours per day for teens and adults. In your case, if you are worried about how much screen time you should allow your 7-year-old, try limiting to one hour per day.
Limiting screen time will allow you keep a closer eye on what your child is experiencing on social media and the internet. It also will combat risks of obesity, sleep disturbances, depression and short attention span.
These tips can help you trim your children’s screen time, and balance time for other healthy growing habits:
It’s OK for your children to have fun on their electronics here and there. However, it is important to remember implementing small windows of screen time can have great health benefits and allow for quality family bonding. Balancing screen time and a healthy environment can seem like a challenge at first, but taking these simple steps and implementing these tips can be helpful in doing so. — Dr. Madhan Prabhakaran, Family Medicine, Mayo Clinic Health System, Fairmont, Minnesota