Digital Media and Kids

Henry and Charles watching “Paw Patrol” on the iPad

Today, technology is an inescapable part of a kid’s world.

The reality of modern childhood is that kids of all ages are spending time watching television, or in front of an iPhone or iPad. 

Let’s talk about the issue parents are extremely concerned about – screen time. 

As with every aspect of parenting, there are many different views about screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no screen time for children before 18 months. For children ages 18 to 24 months, the AAP says parents that want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming and a parent should be present. For children ages 2 to 5 years, parents should limit screen time to one hour per day. For children six years and older, parents should place consistent limits on screen time. 

Image credit: Savanna Tate

These are excellent goals to strive for but realistically how attainable is this? Perhaps not so attainable in a world where technology and screens make up a huge part of our lives. Despite the large presence of digital media, scientists and pediatricians communicate strongly against allowing children to be exposed to screens at a young age.

There is conflicting information out there that argues screen time may actually help prepare children for the world, especially as artificial intelligence and digital systems are rapidly developing becoming ever more present in our lives and the work force.

Dr. Sobolewski with one of his daughters

Dr. Sobolewski, a Health Science professor at Furman University and the father of two young children, believes that by allowing his children monitored access to digital media that he is preparing them for the technological real world. Dr. Sobolewski allows both of his daughters to watch television, despite one daughter being under eighteen months. Dr. Sobolewski admits that since having children, he has had to change his lifestyle. After a long day of work, Sobolewski wants to come home and watch television on the couch. He refrains from doing so in order to be good role models for his children.

Although Dr. Sobolewski does allow his children screen time, he says he is very strict on the time and content allowed. In the Sobolewski household screen time is often earned based on good behavior; however, Dr. Sobolewski admits he sometimes uses television as a way to calm his children down when they are upset. 

While no screen time might be ideal, like most things in life, screen time will not harm your child if it is used in moderation.  As technology is increasingly become important to our world, now it may be important to teach your children how to use it responsibly. The trick is finding the right balance and establishing clear screen time rules when your kids are young. 

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