Many parents have had conversations about their children and the use of screens: how much is too much, and what age is it OK to begin using screens? Research is beginning to show us that considering our kids screen use is important, but equally important is considering our own use of screens.
One of the most valuable types of connectopns parents can have with their children are called “serve and return” interactions. The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University provides this explanation for “serve and return” interactions:
“When an infant or young child babbles, gestures, or cries, and an adult responds appropriately with eye contact, words, or a hug, neural connections are built and strengthened in the child’s brain that support the development of communication and social skills.”
When parents are looking at a screen it interrupts their ability to engage in these types of interactions with their child.
There are tools available to help parents consider how to manage their own screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a couple tips to get you started:
- Be a good role model – limit your own media use and use good manners and kindness online.
- Create tech-free zones – screen-free family mealtimes and bedtimes encourage healthier eating a habits and better sleep for kids and adults. It also creates a natural time for some of those important “serve and return” interactions.
- Create a Family Media plan.