Screen Time, How Much is Too Much? (Pedcast)

Practical advice on how to limit screen time without being the screen police!


1.Unlisted, Children, Adolescents, and Television. American Academy of Pediatrics, Feb. 2001. Web. 5 July 2010

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  1. Lelie Resnick says:

    Dear Doc Smo,

    I am such a fan of your podcasts and wanted to thank you for all your wonderful advice. My husband and I are having a difference in opinion about ipad educational apps and screen time. My husband just bought an ipad and has found lots of educational apps for our boys, ages 2 and 5. Some of them are letter recognition (like Elmo ABC) and memory games (memory train) . For the 2 year old, he does shape recognition games and animal sounds. There’s also books with or without narration.

    My concern is that it will take away from their own creative thinking and that they will want more and more screen time. I have to admit, it did come in handy when we were traveling and didn’t have books to read. However in our everyday life, I feel like it may do more harm than good. My husband argues that they could just as well be watching tv which is totally passive and feels that the ipad apps are better than that. He argues that with careful supervision and limited quantities of time it can supplement “normal” learning activities.

    We have so many friends who are divided on this as well. I would love to know what you think about these kind of apps for children.

    Thanks so much!

    • DocSmo says:

      Dear Lelie,

      Thanks for your comment. First of all, I want to remind you that my recent post was specifically designed for parents with children less than 2 years of age. I think for children older than 2 years of age like your boys, some screen activities can be useful, especially if a parent is also involved and interested simultaneously and the screen time is not done in excess. Again, screens aren’t meant to be babysitters and cannot substitute for a parents attention and guidance even though they are very entertaining. If I had a choice between an engaging educational screen activity or reading to my child, I would pick reading every time. I think they get more out of direct interaction with humans than any screen. As far as the use of screens during travel, I think that is a practical solution to a problem and is OK.
      So I guess I agree with both of you. For children older than 2 years of age, age appropriate screen activities, in very small installments, especially with a parent engaged in the process is OK. I must tell you that many of the children I see in the office bring their own screens with some of the apps you are talking about, but their parents rarely are engaged with their activity. I feel certain that when those parents first bought these games, they intended to play the games with their children but as time goes by, the parents lose interest. Overall, I agree with you Lelie with respect to the eventual outcome of these activities. I think it is very easy for a parent to become detached from the screen activities as their children get older and the child therefore is getting less and less direct parent interaction and eventually more and more pure screen entertainment. I want you playing with your kids, not some piece of software. I hope that helps. Thanks again for listening and commenting on my blog.

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