Parents are always instructed to keep their child’s screen time to a minimum. But now, experts are recommending screen time limits for parents, too.
According to Neha Vyas, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, many times it comes down to prioritizing our time with our children.
She said the amount of time that parents and caregivers spend on their electronic devices directly impacts the quality and quantity of interaction with their children.
“When you are on your device, you’re not interacting with your child,” says Vyas. “You’re not giving young children the nonverbal cues they need in order to develop and in order to learn their language.”
How much parental interaction is needed for a developing child varies for different ages.
Vyas said infants and toddlers need a parent’s full attention, so it’s best to put phones away when caring for very young children.
As they get older, children may need a little less supervision, but never use devices while driving, or ignore a child’s calls for your attention while you are occupied with your phone.
Research has shown that when parents are on their devices, they’re easily distracted; they either talk slower to their children — or not at all.
Vyas said regular conversation with children of all ages is important for their development.
There are healthy ways to interact with devices, but Vyas said parents have to know what’s good and what isn’t.
She said screens should never be used as a babysitter, however, video chats with relatives or playing games together are a good uses of healthy screen time with children.
And while it may be impossible to completely avoid screens, she said it doesn’t mean we should let them get in the way of good parenting.
“We aren’t able to get away from screens all together, but just so you’re aware, when children are very young, they need you; they don’t need a screen — ever,” says Vyas. “As they grow older and become school-aged, then it’s more appropriate to introduce healthy screen-time and healthy screen content.”
According to Vyas, when it comes to quality time with our children, nothing beats getting exercise or taking a walk outdoors.
— Submitted by Cleveland Clinic News Service