When it comes to toddler screen time, the struggle is real. Shoving a screen in front of toddlers to keep them calm and occupied is oh so tempting–we get it. But, have you thought about how this short-term solution may backfire in the long run?
Recent reports link excess screen time to negative effects on toddler’s emotional development and higher rates of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Similarly, the Mayo Clinic reports that too much screen time can cause obesity, irregular sleep, behavioral problems, impaired academic performance, less time for creative play, and even violence. Yikes!
Like many things, screen time is all about balance, and it can still be used (in moderation). The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than 2 and recommends limiting older children's screen time to no more than one or two hours a day.
Are you ready to take steps to reduce your toddler’s screen time? Here are a few tips:
While it’s hard to resist the urge to mindlessly scroll or answer one last email at the dinner table, it’s important to serve as positive examples of screen time for our kids. If we aren’t sticking to these habits, how can we expect our kids to do the same? Perfection is not required, but remaining cognizant of your own device habits will help keep the entire family’s screen time in check!
One of the best ways to reduce screen time is to set clear guidelines for screen time. Instead of using screen time reactively, establish a predictable time each day for your toddler to watch a show or play a game. This will give everyone (you included) a clearer understanding of when it’s time to turn the device off. Plus, when the toddler learns what to expect, you reduce the chances of a meltdown or power struggle. Start small and attainable, and work up to a stricter schedule. A great beginner’s tip is to start by cutting your children’s screen time in half.
There are so many entertaining activities that toddlers can enjoy instead of spending time in front of a screen. For example, swap the screen for crayons and coloring pages. Coloring not only keeps toddlers occupied with minimal supplies, but also inspires their creativity and develops their ability to focus. On our Let’s Play page, you can find downloadable coloring pages, mazes, word games and more!
Making screen time a family activity is a great way to show toddlers how to create a balance between technology and interacting with others. Plus, you can control what is watched and for how long! While you watch, you can even talk about what you see. This creates opportunities to discuss different emotions the characters express and other lessons evident in the plot of the show or movie.
Listening to audiobooks while driving is a great alternative to screen time that will still keep toddlers entertained. While you’re busy driving, your toddler can listen to his/her favorite stories rather than watching a screen. Looking for a first audiobook to kickstart your child’s collection? Guion The Lion is available on Audible via our website.
Outdoor play gives kids opportunities to explore and play while also improving their physical health, social skills, verbal skills and critical thinking abilities. Get outside with your kids at least once a day and enjoy something as simple as a walk around the neighborhood. Need some outdoor activity inspiration? Visit our Let’s Play page.
We hope these tips and tricks to reduce your toddlers’ screen time will help them find a healthy balance between screen time and other activities. For more kid-friendly activities and parenting tips, follow Curious B.E.I.N.G.s on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to the Curious B.E.I.N.G.s newsletter.