Things You Can Do
Know What Your Child Is Watching
Don’t rely on the advertising of a show or app. Review it yourself and ask, “What will my child learn from this?”
Talk about the ads. Help your child learn to say “no” to advertising.
Find apps or programs that have your child do more than just watch. Look for games and apps that encourage moving around.
Sit with your child as he explores a new app or program.
Look for apps that make him think, ask questions, and discover new information.
Do activities together, like calling grandparents with FaceTime or Skype, looking at digital photos, and reading e-books.
Use the Ratings
Use a show’s ratings to learn if it is suitable for your child’s age. Violence in TV shows, movies, and games can lead to nightmares and aggressive behavior. Children under 6 don’t always know the difference between fantasy and reality.
Find ratings and reviews of apps, games, and websites at www.commonsensemedia.org.
Your Child’s Privacy
Most websites and apps are connected to the Internet, and they usually ask for more personal information than they need. Be careful about sharing personal information about you or your child.
Smart phones and tablets make it very easy for children to get to the Internet. Always watch what your young child is doing with a mobile device.
Be a Role Model
If your child sees you watching TV or playing on your phone, he will want to do the same. Be a good role model for your child and limit your own use of these devices. What you do now will teach your child how to use them throughout his life.
Set Limits on Screen Time
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you:
Keep children ages 18 months and younger away from TV, apps, and other entertainment media. They learn best when you talk, read, and sing with them.
Between 18 months and 5 years, keep screen time to 1 hour a day. Make it an activity you do with your child.
Keep TVs, computers, phones, and tablets out of your child’s bedroom at night.
Turn the TV off during dinner and when you’re not watching it. Background TV can interfere with your child’s play and learning.
Try to make some times and places in your home “screen-free zones.”
Use Your Library
Go to the library with your child. Help him pick out books and ask about story hour. Also ask the librarian about apps and websites that are suitable for your child. If you don’t have Internet access at home, you can get online at the library.
Librarians can help your family use computers.
Avoid Screens Before Bed
Screen time before bed can make it hard to get enough sleep. Scary programs can cause nightmares. Looking at a screen can make it hard to get sleepy and go to sleep. And children don’t want to go to bed if they can watch TV or play video games instead. Put away phones, tablets, and computers 2 hours before bedtime.