Screen Time Guidelines to Get You Through the Rest of Summer

Hip Hop Hooray! School is out!

Our children endured changes, challenges and, at times, chaos this past school year. They made it, and they deserve all the pats on the back, awards, accolades, and cheers we can give them. They showed us all how to persevere through tough times.  I’m very proud of not only my children, but all students across the globe. 

girl holding awards

Summer, Summer, Summertime!

Dj Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince said, “Summer, summer, summertime, time to sit back and unwind.”  I agree.  After this past year, all I want to do is unwind, chill, and go to the beach. Honestly, I wish I could live at the beach. Realistically, I know that there will be long periods of time when we will all be at home.  Of course, the kids will want to play video games, use the iPad, and watch television. They deserve to do that, right? Remember, they just completed a tough and unique year of school filled with masks, social distancing, etc. 

As a mom, enjoying a break from refereeing siblings by letting technology occupy their time would be the easy way out.  I recently heard Pastor Charles Smith say, however, “Parenting is a 25-hour a day, 8 days a week job.” There are no days off.  While children do deserve chill and vacation time (and I allow them that) the mom in me will have to set limits when we are home. What do I mean by limits? It’s summer, and if your kids are like mine, then you know that the spirit of laziness will try to creep in and cause them to not want to do anything…but, Not today Satan.  This is why I have to set limits on screen time.

Unlimited Screen time vs Limits

Let’s talk about screen time. When my children were very young, I would allow them to watch YouTube on the iPad and my phone. It was easy. It kept them entertained, and it gave me a break. One day, my husband noticed that the kids would cry if we took the iPad or phone. We both knew then that this was turning into an addiction. We decided to remove all devices. It was tough, and the kids literally “cried it out” for about two weeks. It was like weaning them off the pacifier or bottle. It was tough, but we made it.

We learned years ago that too much screen time could actually harm a child. As parents, that’s the last thing we wanted to do. I like to believe that no parent wants to intentionally or unintentionally harm his or her own child. Too much screen time could cause poor eyesight, aid in obesity, cause sleep issues, and encourage a sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to other health issues (Ashton, J.J., & Beattie, R.M.). The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommended screen times for children based on their ages. See the chart below for examples.  Once my husband and I learned about the harmful side effects of too much screen time from various forms of technology such as video games, and television, we knew we had to get creative.

Screen time limits and Guidelines

Newborn -18 months  No screen time unless video chatting w/adult like parent
18 – 24 monthsLimited to watching educational programming with a caregiver
Ages 2-5Limit non-educational screen time to about 1 hour per weekday and 3 hours on the weekend days  
6 and olderEncourage healthy habits and limit activities that include screens  
Other Guidelines:Turn off all screens during family meals and outings. Learn about and use parental controls. Avoid using screens as pacifiers, babysitters, or to stop tantrums. Turn off screens and remove them from bedrooms 30-60 minutes before bedtime.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Before Screen Time

During the summer, my kids have to complete a certain amount of reading before watching TV or picking up a device. This summer, I included an incentive for reading to motivate them to read more than the mandatory 20 minutes per day. They also have to play outside for a certain amount of time, complete chores, clean their room, and choose an activity that’s creative. 

children playing with Legos

We also have fun together as family.  We play basketball, tic tac toe, play with Legos, go fishing, swim, ride bikes, go to the park, and take walks in our neighborhood.  Be creative, have fun, and enjoy your kids while they are young.  See the chart below for a checklist you can use as a guide for your family.  There are tons of free pintables online that you print and post on your refrigerator.

free screen time chart

Stand Your Ground

You know your children and what work best for them. Make adjustments according to their personalities and your lifestyle. Get them motivated and excited to try new things, explore nature by getting outside, visit the library, go on nature walks, go to the park, enroll them in camps, and/or have them help you clean around the house. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to set limits.  Children need discipline, boundaries, and limits. Parents, be prepared for them to test those limits. Lastly, whenever you do allow screen time, make sure to monitor what your kids are watching and make sure the content is age appropriate and meaningful.  Parents, stand your ground and enforce your screen time limits.  Don’t let the world (through technology) have more influence on them than you. 

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

P.S. Someone take me back to the BEACH…PLEASE!

Screen Time in Children and Adolescents: Is There Evidence to Guide Parents and Policy? 
Ashton, J.J., & Beattie, R.M., The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, 2019

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Charles Smith, Author, 7-Steps to Raising Amazing Children. 2020

Mekael Black

Being a mother and wife was my main focus in life, but to my surprise, my children would be the very reason I am now an author. I have two children's books: What Will A-Tal Play Today? and The Fearless Princess. I hope these books encourages children and even grown-ups all over the world to be fearless, confident, and courageous. I grew up in the small town of Ellisville, MS, graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Information Systems and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. I now reside in Hattiesburg, MS. with my husband Dorian Black, an Investment Advisor at Black Financial Services, LLC and our two wonderful children Asa (10) and Aixa (6). I love being creative, learning new things, and playing basketball with her family