By Courtney Morris Gardner, MSN, RN, CPNP
As a society, we are increasingly being surrounded by screens and digital media. The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes this and has amended their stance on screen time. It is very challenging to avoid all screens all the time. However, parents need to know that there is little to no benefit to infants and children as they view the screen alone.
Infants and children learn by social interaction, engagement and expressions. When your child is viewing a screen, the social and human aspects are no longer present.
The moral of the story here is your face matters! Your child is desperate for you to play and engage him. Talk to him and allow him to help in household tasks. Read to him and allow him to read back to you. Encourage free time outdoors, in nature, to listen to the birds and the surrounding sounds. These crucial moments for brain development are simply not engaged when your child is locked into a screen. No device will ever replace human interaction. As tempting as it may be, avoid scrolling through apps while in the presence of your child. They are only young once! The days can be long but the years are short. The less distracted you are, the more you can engage with your child, which is hands down the best activity for promoting their development, confidence and trust.
Other key points:
- Keep television, computers, tablets or phones out of your child’s bedroom.
- Avoid the use of devices as a calming mechanism.
- No screens during meals or prior to bedtime.
- For children under 2 years old, screen time should be limited to video chatting with a grandparent or relative.
- For children older than 2, limit media to less than 1 hour of high quality programming and engage your child while you view the program together. Help him understand what he is viewing and how to incorporate it into his tactile world.
- If desired, reputable programs are found through PBS Kids, Sesame Street and Common Sense Media.
Courtney Morris Gardner, MSN, RN, CPNP, is a nurse practitioner with McDowell Pediatrics in Marion.
Call 828-652-6386 for information and appointments.