Screen Time with Young Children

Coparents living in separate homes face special challenges when trying to figure out a healthy and consistent approach to screen time for young children. It's important that the coparents are talking with each other and reaching some basic agreements on how to handle screen time in each of the homes. This is especially important because of the impact screen time can have on sleep and behavior for young children who need routine and consistency to thrive in both homes.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has some excellent resources to help parents make good decisions about screen time with young children.  The AAP policy statement on Media and Young Minds offers a review of the current research and literature with an overview of the areas of concern parents need to address. There are no absolutes for every single child or every single family. Rather there is an overview of the critical areas for consideration in developing a family media plan and approach. Multiple sources identify the importance of interactive media use for young children. Mayo Clinic also offers some ideas for parents looking for information about how to guide their young children in developing a healthy relationship with digital media.

Unstructured playtime is more valuable for the healthy development of young minds than electronic media because there are no limits to the imagination and exploration that emerges in such play. Pay attention each day to the balance in your child's playtime between unstructured playtime both indoors and out. Richard Louv coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder and he offers valuable information to parents about the importance of time in nature that can add more ideas for balance for your young child.

An article from the Washington Post reviews the importance of unstructured playtime for young children and offers some examples of approaches from other parts of the world.

Coparents can best help their young children develop a healthy approach to screen time through dialogue and collaboration. If you are in a coparenting relationship without communication or with conflicted communication, you might consider initiating a facilitated coparenting process with a Coparenting Coach.  Transitions Family Program at Hannah's House offers this service as part of the specialized services developed for coparents raising 2-home children; and the Family Resource Center at Hannah's House sponsors a free 2-hour coparenting workshop monthly.