Our grandkids are surrounded by screens: televisions, tablets, mobile phones, computers, gaming devices. As a result, parents and grandparents are concerned about how to handle screen time, and don’t always agree on the boundaries. To make life easier for all, be sure to speak with your adult children about the family guidelines regarding screens.
The recommendations mentioned here are focused on the younger set of kids; however, much of the information presented is just as relevant as the kids get older.
1.“Unplug” your own devices (mobile phones) as much as possible when you are with your grandkids. Set a certain number of times during the day to check your phone or the news.
2. Monitor the amount of screen time you allow your grandkids. Balance play time with screen time.Young children learn best from “real-life” play and interactions, so it’s important to limit screens and encourage play in the real world. For children under 18 months, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time except for video chat with loved ones. From 18 months to age 3 years, they recommend 1 hour of high quality media experiences per day. As kids get older, there will be different boundaries.*
3. Pick high quality screen content. Look at PBS and Sesame Street. For children ages 2 and all the way through the teenage years, review the recommendations from Common Sense Media.
4. Find interactive games/apps/books. It’s fun for the kids to play games/apps and read online books where they can give feedback and become participants.
5. Join in on the screen time with your grandchildren!Play the games, talk about the apps, do the puzzles, sing the songs, read the books.
6. Turn off background media, such as the television and mobile phones, especially during meal time and play time. Avoid watching any scary news!
7. Discuss what’s happening on the screen.Engage grandchildren in conversation. Talk about what’s going on in a game or on the app or in a tv program. If you are reading a book, discuss the characters, their personalities, their feelings. Ask questions. Talk about what might come next in the book. Dialogue is inspiring and makes “together time” even more valuable.
*Sourced and revised from article, “Making the Most of Screen Time with Your Grandchild”; Zero to Three.org