We're winding down Yellow Week at Color Camp with a few suggestions for kids screen time today! A child's relationship with screens can feel fraught for many caregivers in this hyper-digital age. So many questions come up when figuring out how to navigate the use of screens with kids: Should they be avoided entirely? How much is too much? What shows, games, or apps are most appropriate? Ultimately, we believe that you should do whatever works best for you and your family. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, here are a few tips and recommendations from our friend Kerry, a Montessori educator.
Set a routine.
Establish some guidelines around screens with all the different grown-ups in your child's life, such as grandparents or sitters, to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Share these guidelines with your child in digestible, age-appropriate ways — both visually and orally. A few examples include:
- Making a chart or a picture of a screen time schedule
- At the beginning of screen time, saying something like, "I am turning on the TV! Today, we will watch one show. When it is done, we will turn it off. What would you like to watch?"
- At the end, saying, “I am turning it off now. That was fun! What would you like to do next?”
If your child is upset when screen time ends, validate their emotions (while still following through on expectations!). Try saying something like: “I know it’s hard to turn off the TV/end screen time! Screen time makes you feel ____ and ____, and it’s hard to stop things we love. Our screen time is over for today. We’ll watch the next episode tomorrow.” Kerry also suggests making a list with your child of other activities they like to refer back to in harder moments, as well as keeping devices somewhere that is out of consistent view, if possible.
Aim for consistency.
While sticking to a schedule helps, life is unpredictable — especially in the summer. Explain that to your kids! It might help to preview a daily screen time plan in the morning with a phrase like, “Screen time will happen during your brother’s nap today.”
Think about your child's temperament, and how different screen activities could affect their mood. For instance, if your child has a lot of restless energy, go for something like a calming puzzle on an iPad over an action-packed show.
And while there's much to be said about the addictive nature of screens, it's important to talk about screens with your child in a way that doesn't shame them or make them feel bad for wanting to interact with them. Yes, they're addictive in large doses, but their presence in your child's life is also inevitable. You can be transparent with your child about why you set limits for screens, while acknowledging the positive aspects of them, too — "We get to watch movies and laugh together! You get to practice your math facts!"
With these tips in mind, here are a few screen time recommendations. If you're ever curious about a particular show or game, Kerry recommends looking it up on Common Sense Media to help you decide whether or not it's a good fit for your child.
TV Shows & Movies
Share your favorite screen time picks for kids with us on social at @primarydotcom with #yesprimary and #primarycolorcamp for a chance to be featured! Check out our entire lineup of easy, DIY Color Camp activities for kids, and don’t forget to visit the Camp Shop for outfits, essentials, and more camp picks from Team Primary.