How to find the right balance of screen time for your kids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- We often hear people talk about how bad screen time is, but local experts say there can be just as many pros as cons and says it's all about balance.

“The reality is that technology is here to stay as an integral part of our lives and we want to be raising kids who know how to use it in a way that benefits them but also is healthy for them,” says Dr. Nicole Beurkens, PHD, CNS Licensed Psychologist.

So what is a healthy balance?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Children between 18 to 24 months should avoid using screen media other than video chatting or high quality programming with a parent present
  • Kids ages 2 to 5 years old should limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high quality programs
  • And kids ages 6 and older should aim for 2 hours a day, keeping in mind most are already spending a lot of times on screens in school

Chris McKenna, Founder and CEO of Protect Young Eyes says one of the best things you can do is keep an eye on your child's behavior.

Just like anything, too much of a good thing can have its downside.

“A con is that research shows that too much time, an excessive amount of time in front of devices can lead to increased symptoms of ADHD, anxiety, depression, those types of things in children and adolescents so it really comes back to being all about balance balancing out those good things and negative things to have healthy use for kids,” says Beurkens.

Regardless of how your child spends their screen time, you'll want to make sure you are using the parental controls that come on devices or use an app that allows you to have control over time limits, inappropriate content and social media.

Visit Common Sense Media or ESRB for recommendations about the best educational games and apps for children of various ages.

Educational apps:

Leela Podcast App - Educational, historical and good to listen to while traveling instead of playing a game.

Habitica - Allows kids to track what they do throughout the day like eating healthy, doing chores and if they get a certain score parents can give them an allowance through it.

Socratic - Helps kids work through math problems, but parents will want to help with this one because it can cause kids to cheat because it lays out a ton of answers.

Think Like Churchill - Puts kids in historical scenarios that Winston Churchhill was in and has kids figure out what to do next and helps them learn how to make good decisions.

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