Screen time guidelines for toddlers

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How much time should my little one be spending in front of a screen? This is a question that is becoming more and more common amongst parents as screens become a permanent fixture in our lives. The problem is that you will get a wildly different answer depending on who you ask.

Some will say your toddlers should have no screen time at all, others will say it doesn’t matter how much they watch, then there will be those that fall in between. So what is the right answer?

There isn’t a one size fits all answer to this question because every family is different. To help you find the right answer for you and your toddlers, here are some general screen time guidelines for toddlers:

1. Have a good balance:

The general rule of thumb is children between the ages of 3 and 7 shouldn’t spend more than two hours in front of a screen in a single day. There are of course exceptions to this. If your child is doing homework or speaking to family over a video call, this is deemed ok. Furthermore, there are certain situations where more screen time can be fine, such as on a long-haul flight where there are limited entertainment options.

2. Lead by example:

Parent’s often forget just how much their kids look to mimic their behaviour – even when it comes to screens. If they see you glued to a screen every other minute of the day, they will think that this is normal and want to do the same. You’ll have a hard keeping your child off screens if you’re constantly scrolling on Tiktok in front of them.

We all deserve a break and some of us use social media to do that. Just be mindful of how much time you spend using screens in front of your little one.

3. Choose the right content:

If you’re going to let your kids watch TV, you may as well show them the best content available. For example, there are some great free kids cartoons that are as educational as they are entertaining. This means that as your kids laugh along to these shows, they’ll also be learning valuable life lessons as they do so.

4. Make it part of their routine:

As a parent, you should aim to create a healthy relationship between your toddler and screens. A good place to start is by making it a part of their daily routine. For example, you could let them watch TV for 30 minutes while they eat breakfast or lunch before you get on with their day.

5. Don’t use it as a fail-safe:

Some parents fall into the trap of using screen time too much. Screaming at the table? Give them the tablet. Complaining about boredom? Reach for the remote. Can’t be bothered? Stick them in front of a screen.

Whilst screens can be helpful, they shouldn’t be used all time to fix any hurdles you may encounter. This is when you can start to move into the territory of lazy parenting, which of course you will want to avoid.

Final Thoughts

Screen time doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, by following these guidelines, you can turn it into a positive experience for you and your child.

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