Toddler Screen Time and Sleep
Here's how much screen time is appropriate for toddlers
By EDWARD DANYO
Being a kid these days means having screen time. The “new normal” for toddlers through teens is some measure of time on digital learning platforms, as well as a baby sitting tool for parents who are stretched thin.
But what can that screen time do to their development, health and sleep?
IS SCREEN TIME BAD FOR TODDLERS?
Not always! Think of the wonderful educational and engaging resources that can be unlocked thanks to a device your can hold in your hand.
Sites like ABCmouse.com provide an extensive and interactive “pay for” service focused on children from ages 2-8. While the FREE site, e-learningforkids.org have focused on math and science lessons for grades 1 – 6. Mashable has done a nice job of compiling their favorite learning platforms as well as providing tips on how to select the best option for your child.
Now for the downside. The American Academy of Chld & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) says too much time looking at screens can cause your child to suffer eye fatigue, behavioral issues and lack of sleep. So AACAP says your child is never too young for a screen-time plan.
HOW MUCH SCREEN TIME SHOULD MY TODDLER HAVE?
AACAP suggests the following guidelines:
- Up to 18 months: Video chatting with family only
- 18-24 months: Watching educational programming with a caregiver
- 2-5 Years: Limit non-educational screen time to about an hour a day
Those are noble goals, but let’s face it. By today’s standard, 1 hour of sedentary screen time is no easy feat! You’ll need to be creative by using short strategic 10-15 minutes screen time bursts.
“Your 3-4 year old should get no more than 60 minutes of sedentary screen time daily!”
KEEP KIDS MOVING!
If kids are on screens, they’re not moving, and that’s bad.
The World Health Organization recommends 180 minutes of physical activity to get your child away from the screen and build healthy physical habits early in life. While they may get a bit cranky because they aren’t watching their favorite shows, the activity should allow your child to burn off some energy and may make bedtime a bit easier.
THE IMPACT OF SCREEN TIME ON SLEEP
In addition to limiting the screen time during the day, Hush Buddy recommends that you completely eliminate screen time at least 45 minutes prior to bedtime. Blue light devices such as tablets and smart phones limit the amount of melatonin produced, and make it much more difficult for your little one to fall asleep. We’ve compiled all our recommendation here: How to Get Your Toddler to Sleep