It seems everywhere you look, there is a screen! Parents and families often wonder, “Why is screen-time bad for my child?” or “Why should I limit my child’s screen time?” Parents and families may wonder, “Why can’t I let me child watch a lot of tv?” or “How can I reduce my child’s television time?” These are great questions!

The recommendations about screen-time being limited come from the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as a few other sources. Screen time for school and online classes are typically interactive and therefore do not need to be limited. However, screen time such as online games, television, watching videos online, and other free play on a screen can have negative effects on children.

The reasons typically given for limiting screen time include:

  • Children learn better and remember more from real life learning than video presentations.
  • Screen-time does not allow time for a child to learn trial and error, and problem solving.
  • Screen-time does not provide opportunities for physical movement the way that unstructured play time does, and this can lead to a lack of exercise.
  • Too much screen time and low quality screen time has been linked in the research to increased obesity, irregular sleep, difficulty concentrating, behavior problems, reduced social skills, and more.  

Ways to Limit Screen Time:

  • Start slowly – If your child has lots of screen time currently, it may be best to reduce the daily limit slowly. For example, if your child currently has 4 hours of television time per day, you might first limit it to 3 hours per day, and later on reduce the limit to 2 hours per day, until meeting your desired goal.
  • Provide fun and engaging activities to play that are not related to screen-time.
  • Create an “I’m bored” list or a “Fun Stuff List” of fun things to do besides screen time if your child is bored.
  • Create a seasonal “Bucket List” of fun things to do for Summer, Winter, Spring and Fall. Let your child help pick out the items on the list!
  • Use apps that control number of hours or minutes allowed.
  • Use the screen-time as an earned reward.
  • Set specific rules and time-limits ahead of time so that there is not room for negotiation.
  • Create rules about meals or family time during which screens are not allowed.
  • Keep the chargers outside of the child’s room at night so that they don’t use the device at night unsupervised.
  • Create a Device Basket or Device Drawer where you keep all electronics when not in use so that you can easily detect when they are in use.
  • Explain why you are setting limits so that your child is more likely to understand.

Ways to Make Screen Time Better for Your Child’s Brain:

  • Talk about what you are watching.
  • Pause the television and ask them questions about what was watched.
  • Pause the television and talk about what they learned.
  • Create ways to make the screen time more interactive, such as watching a video about an art activity, and then doing that art activity.
  • Create ways to make the screen time more interactive, such as watching a music video, and giving your child safe instruments to play while watching.
  • Stay nearby to observe and supervise what is being watched.
  • Preview the content to ensure topics are appropriate.
  • Preview the content to determine if there is some learning value.
  • Preview the content to ensure there is not violence or inappropriate behavior that might be copied.

Some children may need step by step guidance or individualized plans for behavior challenges as a part of an ABA program. Our team of experienced ABA therapists is able to create an individualized plan for teaching this important skill as a part of the ABA program goals. Acuity Behavior Solutions staff can also review additional ways you can help to ensure your child makes improvements through ABA therapy. If you have any questions about starting ABA, please feel free to give us a call at (714) 696-2862.

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