Q: How should I balance screen time and play time with my children?
A: Screen time these days looks quite different than it did when we were
growing up, different even than it did ten years ago. It used to mean
plopping your kid in front of Sesame Street or Teletubbies while we quickly
scramble to do the breakfast dishes or throw a load of laundry in the washer.
No longer is “screen time” a passive activity. With the invention
of tablets and thousands of apps, kids of all ages can play interactive
games that help them build skills like reading, math, and more. But there
are still some concerns about too much screen time with kids.
Once such concern is screen addiction. Some children can become addicted
to those tablets and end up playing games, educational or otherwise, instead
of doing homework, sleeping, or interacting with friends and family. Another
concern is blue light. This spectrum of light emitted by tablets, smart
phones, and even televisions, can have a detrimental effect on sleep patterns
and eye sight.
So while screen time isn’t as “bad” as it used to be,
it’s still important to create boundaries for your kids. Limit the
number of hours each day they’re using tablets and limit any screen
time for the hour before bedtime.
And don’t forget about play time. “Physical activity reduces
children's risk of obesity and diabetes along with improving muscle
and bone strength. That's true for adults too!” says Lance Holtry,
DO of Marshall Family Medicine in El Dorado Hills. Organized sports can
be a great way for kids to get that physical activity, as well as provide
important interaction with other children. Learning team work and social
skills are other important benefits of sports and play time for kids.