Finding a balance concerning screen time

Posted 10/31/19

Dear Ask A Therapist, What’s the right way to integrate screen time into my child’s routine? Dear parent, There is no one way to integrate screen time. Like many things, moderation is key. While …

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Finding a balance concerning screen time

Posted

Dear Ask A Therapist,

What’s the right way to integrate screen time into my child’s routine?

Dear parent,

There is no one way to integrate screen time. Like many things, moderation is key. While many parents remember a world without expansive Internet and electronic technology, your child will never know a world like that. Technological advancement separates the generations and creates a lot of “shoulds” and “should-nots” for us and our children.

Electronics have become powerful tools, and for parents the first step is knowing how to best use the tools. Just as you may have wanted your parents to be engaged and connect with you through your rock collection, your child wants you to be engaged and connect through a Minecraft game or the like.

Look at screen time as a time you can use to connect with your child. Screens are used in many positive ways, such as online research in educational activities. Take the time, talk about the many uses of screen time with your child.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents develop a family media plan that considers the health, education, and entertainment needs of each child as well as the whole family. Just as the plan will look different for each family, the plan may also look different for each child within your family.

Understanding the media each child uses and what each child is getting out of the device may help you decide where to implement it into the routine. Creating a family plan can also create a space to practice compromise as you’ll want to discuss balance between screen time and exercise or outdoor play, all of which are important to childhood development.

Balance is key as you begin to find what works best for your family in integrating screen time. The Association of Pediatrics suggests that children between 2 and 6 can use electronics for a maximum of two hours each day without harming their development.

Many parents have a fear of “screen addiction.” If you notice your child is spending many consecutive hours in front of a screen and you feel stuck in how to adjust the behavior, a play therapist can support you and your child in this process.

Play therapists have specialized education, training and experience to support families and children in a variety of areas, including ways to implement new routines in a nurturing and connected way. A play therapist may also be able to direct you to a reputable source for national guidelines related to screen time.

Kellee Clark, LMFT, RPT, and EMDR is a therapist with Community Reach Center’s Early Childhood Services team.

Please submit your questions to Ask A Therapist at AskATherapist@CommunityReachCenter.org  This column is for educational purposes only, and opinions are not necessarily those of this publication. Answers are not a substitute for regular or urgent medical consultation and treatment. Individuals with medical or personal problems need to seek the advice of their own physician or an appropriate health-care professional. Do not stop any medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician. If you are experiencing a crisis call 911 or Behavioral or the Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-TALK (8255). Remember that our Behavioral Health Urgent Care (NHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours. To learn more about Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in Adams County, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500.

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