Balancing screen time for kids this summer

screen time
Posted at 7:14 AM, Jun 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-13 08:15:32-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Summer is here and school is out for so many students. So now, with so much time to fill for so many kids, screens are a simple solution.

Whether that's shows, movies or video games, they're entertaining and can pass the time but at what cost for kids' development?

The author of "Raising Emotionally Strong Boys," David Thomas says it's important for parents to set screen time limits. Thomas is the director of family counseling at Daystar Counseling in Nashville.

Thomas said it's up to the parent whether those limits are set daily or weekly. He tells his clients to utilize the Family Media Time calculator on the American Academy of Pediatrics website to get an idea of how much screen time their child should be getting, depending on their age.

Thomas is well aware that there are now so many options, between countless streaming services and interactive video games that can easily sway kids, especially young boys, away from being outside and playing with friends. But, it doesn't mean all screen time is bad. It's why he encourages family movie nights.

"There are some real differences between what we call passive watching something like television or watching a movie together as a family and active watching like gaming and to no one's surprise the brain is activated differently and more during active watching," Thomas said.

However, make sure that if you do have a family movie night, that time is still included in screen time totals. But, Thomas says, there can be benefits to that time around the TV together.

"I'd rather kids be camped out for two hours in front of a movie with their parents and then having a great conversation than camped out for two hours playing video games without any brain breaks along the way," he said.

Also, Thomas said, we as parents, have to help set the example. If parents set screen time expectations and limitations, you can bet our kids are watching our habits.

"Kids learn more from observation and information. They learn way more from watching us and observing us than anything else and they're paying attention," Thomas said. "You know, if we're checking emails under the table at dinner time, but yet we're saying that should be conversation time they're noticing all those things. So we really want to be modeling these good healthy limits."

If you'd like to know more about David's book or even book an appointment at Daystar, you can visit its website, here.