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Navigating the Digital Age: Promoting Healthy Screen Time for Kids

Dec 7, 2023

It's undeniable that screens have become an integral part of our lives. From smartphones and tablets to computers and televisions, screens are everywhere, and they play a significant role in the daily activities of children.

“While technology undoubtedly offers a wealth of educational and entertainment opportunities, it also poses a potential threat to a child's well-being if not used judiciously,” said Barry Berman, M.D., pediatrician at Inspira Medical Group Pediatrics Salem. Finding a balance between screen time and other recreational and enrichment activities is crucial for promoting healthy development in children.

Balancing screen time and physical activity

Parents and caregivers often grapple with the question of how much screen time is appropriate for their children. Striking the right balance is essential. “On one hand, screens can provide educational content and interactive learning experiences that stimulate a child's cognitive development,” said Dr. Berman. “On the other hand, excessive screen time can lead to a sedentary lifestyle and problems like attention issues and impaired academic performance, withdrawnness, sleep disruption and mental health concerns like anxiety or depression.”

Physical activity and playtime are vital components of childhood development. They help build strength, improve coordination and foster social skills. “Outdoor play, in particular, offers children the chance to explore the world, develop creativity and engage with their peers in ways that screens cannot replicate,” said Dr. Berman.

Setting screen time limits

Establishing screen time limits can be a challenging task, especially when screens are so prevalent in our lives. Here are some tips for parents to help strike the right balance:

  • Create a family media plan: Develop a family media plan that outlines specific rules for screen time. This plan can include daily and weekly limits, as well as guidelines on where and when screens are allowed.
  • Lead by example: Children often learn by observing their parents. Be a role model by demonstrating responsible screen use and showing that there are times when screens should be put aside in favor of other activities.
  • Set tech-free zones: Designate certain areas of the house, such as the dining room or the child's bedroom, as tech-free zones to promote social time and family bonding.
  • Establish a screen-free bedtime routine: Avoid screens before bedtime, as they can interfere with sleep patterns. Instead, encourage calming activities like reading or storytelling.

Age-appropriate educational apps and games

Not all screen time is created equal. Many age-appropriate educational apps and games can turn screen time into a meaningful and productive experience. Some popular options include:

  • ABCmouse: An early learning app that offers a comprehensive curriculum for preschool through second grade
  • PBS Kids: Features a variety of educational games and videos based on popular children's shows
  • Khan Academy Kids: A free app that provides interactive lessons in math, reading and other subjects for young children
  • Prodigy: Interactive games that make learning math fun and align with school curriculum
  • Hopscotch: A coding platform that encourages creativity and problem-solving skills in older children ages 10-16

Whether your child needs immediate medical attention or you’re hoping to take preventive measures to promote their well-being, Inspira Health Pediatric Care offers age-appropriate medical interventions, growth monitoring, developmental assessments, guidance for caregivers and more throughout these fundamental years.

Topics: Children's Health