We live in a digital world. That’s a simple fact, so protecting our children is a cross we need to bear. The majority of households have any number of screen devices from TVs and phones to tablets and gaming systems. It’s even common occurrence for schools to administer iPads to each student for both school and home use. Although the safety controls on the devices from school are readily in place, screen time on these tablets still requires limitation.

Let’s start with the really young crowd….ages 2 and under. These babies and toddlers are truly no better off with screen time despite the fact that many apps and shows are designed for and claim to enhance education. The truth is, this age group still learns and remembers most effectively through live interactions.

Past the age of 2, very small amounts of screen time learning can be beneficial as long as it meets certain criteria which requires thinking and involvement on the part of the child. As it is with all ages, passive “staring at a screen” is quite counter productive to our health.

Because kids are spending more and more time on electronics at an earlier age, by the time children reach elementary school, they experience a vast increase in the amount of their screen time. In turn, tweens and teens log around 6-9 hours per day on their devices! Since electronic usage too early and too often can hinder proper mental and physical development when abused, it’s important to appropriately monitor time and quality of what is being used and watched. Talking with your children as to what the rules are and why is crucial. Cyberbullying and sharing personal information are serious issues that need to include on-going communication efforts with our kids regarding our ever evolving technologically advanced world.

Since not all screen time is created equal, make sure you are aware of what apps, games, shows and movies entail and make selections that best coincide with your family’s values. Whether they’re learning our state capitols, working on Khan Academy or Snapchatting with friends, being proactive when it comes to guiding children through all the options available to them will help ensure they maneuver through a safe and productive environment at all times.