Balancing screen time with small children: Consider content, not time experts say

Jul 26, 2023, 5:40 PM | Updated: 5:55 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — When it comes to letting your young children use iPads, computers, or your phone, how much technology is too much?  

It’s not about time limits, it’s about the content, said Annie Frazier, Education Program Manager for PBS Utah.

“Find content that is developed by people who know how a young child’s brain works,” Frazier said. 

She urged parents to look for apps and games created and screened by educators. When using the apps, Frazier suggested interacting with your child to enhance the learning process.

“Asking questions like, ‘What should we do next?’, ‘What did you do that made that work?’, ‘What would you do if you did this level again?’” Frazier said. “The screen and the game are really the tool, but the caregivers should still be the teacher.” 

When playing games on screens, make it a family event by playing together and making sure you are nearby.

“You can be close together, you can give a thumbs up, a high five. make it just like you would if you were playing Chutes and Ladders,” Frazier said.

She warned against screen restrictions and regulations, saying they can break down the lines of communication. 

“Having the children help come up with the guidelines, have children brainstorm alternative activities that are free and outside, so there could be balance throughout the day,” Frazier said.

Mother of four Meghan Ballard agreed that balance is key. She has seen the benefits of letting her three-year-old play games on the iPad that focus on sight words.

“It is amazing to see her pick up the alphabet playing this game,” she said. “I definitely think kids are learning differently [with technology], and I think there are positives and negatives.”

If parents are wondering which apps and games have been screened by experts, Frazier suggested checking out commonsensemedia.org or pbskids.org.

For more ideas, head over to 5B45kids.org.

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Balancing screen time with small children: Consider content, not time experts say