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Ahh, technology. I have covered the topic of kids and television (and in recent years screens) many times. You can read some of that work here and here. My stance mirrors that of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) — less screen time, more play time –  so I wasn’t surprised when they came out with new recommendations this week, which include:

  • Kids younger than 18 months avoiding all screen media
  • Those 18 to 24 months of age should watch high-quality programming (if anything at all) and watch with parents
  • Children ages 2 to 5 years should be in front of screens for no longer than one hour per day and co-view with their parents
  • Kids over 6 should have “consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health”

I also love the AAP’s other suggestions: Media-free time together with the family, and media-free locations inside homes such as bedrooms.

Monitoring and limiting my youngest hasn’t been too difficult. My older daughter just turned 13, though, and I feel like we’re fighting a losing battle. She has an iPhone and a Chromebook, which the school supplies. They use the Chromebook at school in place of text books. This means that the kid is on and off that screen for up to seven hours a day. Homework is done on the Chromebook, too. The kids video chat with each other to work on projects and all the work is on their Google Drive. Then there’s the texting, FaceTiming and other social interactions that take place on the phone. It feels like she is always staring at a screen. What’s a parent to do?

I must admit that I was one of the parents who was thrilled that we give out Chromebooks at school. What a great idea, I thought. Now…not so much. I wonder what all this screen time is doing to my kid’s brain. (After all, I, like many parents, read the NY Post article about screens that call them “digital heroin.”) And yet it is nearly impossible to take the screens away. Kids don’t call each other on the phone. Their phones are the main venues for social interaction. So what’s a mom to do?

I’m going to read the AAP’s guidelines with my kids later on. I’m also going to sit down and, as a family, create a media plan using the AAP’s interactive, online tool. Finally, I am going to tell my daughter she needs to disconnect from her phone for at least an hour when she gets home and enforce the screen ban that’s already in place: No screens after 9 p.m. We’ve been lax about that when the day turns into night and she’s still working on her homework or chatting with friends. We never wanted to be the parents who kept their children from social interactions. I’ll let you know how that goes.

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