Screen Time, Healthy Limits For You and Your Little One

Screen time, healthy limits for you and your little one


It’s sometimes easy to give your child the iPad when you’re in the middle of cooking dinner to entertain them and keep them busy. Sometimes we realize that our 11 year old has been upstairs on the laptop for the last few hours and you’re wondering if they’re really doing their homework. Screen time for our children – good or bad? But more importantly, what are the healthy limits?


Becoming an ever increasing concern for parents in the emerging digital era, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has set the guidelines for screen time at no more than one hour per day of high quality programs,’ for children between the ages of two to five. Under two and the AAP are recommending ‘unplugged playtime,’ and if you’re child is over five you should be strict about placing ‘consistent limits’ on the time spent in front of a screen.


So why do these limits exist?


A large scale study conducted in Canada found that longer screen time was statistically associated with a poorer performance on developmental screening test. The study asked mothers to complete questionnaires about their children’s screen time and their ongoing development from age two to five.


The children were then tested on their communication, motor, problem solving and social skills. Researchers concluded that the more screen time, the less developed the child; acting as the basis for the current AAP guidelines.


There are a number of reasons why this may occur, for a developing mind the bright LED ‘blue’ lights and over-stimulating nature of digital technology may be delaying natural cognitive development. Another reason may be routed in the increased sedentary behavior associated with screen time; or perhaps it’s because the children are missing opportunities for creative real-life learning because they’re immersed in a game.


Often as parents, it’s easy to manage or prevent bad behavior by offering a screen rather than engaging with our children. In fact, around 72 percent of parents report that their children have more than two hours of screen time per day. This doesn’t make us bad parents, it makes us human, using the resources we have available to us to make our lives a little easier. But it’s not all bad; technology can also be used as a tool for learning and engaging.


Using a screen to connect with family members on Skype or FaceTime can help children feel connected with their wider family and engage in beneficial social interactions. This could be used as a basis for a real-life game, or encouraging the child to write a letter or draw a picture to that relative or friend.


There are plenty of apps and websites that use games and technology to promote learning and creative thinking. Some ‘brain games’ for children practice non-verbal or verbal reasoning, to actually improve a child’s cognitive development. Other apps may encourage children to think creatively, drawing pictures or solving puzzles. YouTube is a great source for children, providing hours of content specifically designed to help your children learn from home, for free.


When it comes to screen time for your little ones – less is better. Children need to be exploring the real world, engaging with their peers, discovering what their interests are and staying physically active. However, if you do find yourself needing to rely on screens for your children, use digital channels that encourage learning.

How to Incorporate Speech Therapy into Your Child’s Day

Parents play a critical role in their child’s speech development–even if their child is seeing a speech therapist. A speech-language pathologist, or “speech therapist,” can help your child overcome communication challenges, but it’s the work that’s done at home that truly makes a difference. If your child is seeing a speech therapist, there are a number of ways you can incorporate speech therapy into your child’s day continue to nurture their language development.

  Working with a Speech Therapist

  The first step to incorporating speech therapy into your child’s day is to work closely with their speech therapist, who will provide at-home exercises, and advise on best practices for ensuring consistent improvement.   A speech therapist will also  
  • Set language development goals;
  • Design daily speech-building activities;
  • Develop progress reports; and
  • Determine next steps.
  Further, by working closely with your child’s speech therapist, you become the primary person responsible for your child’s language development.  

At Home Exercises

  A speech therapist will provide a series of progressive exercises you can do with your child at home. These activities can be done at bathtime, during meal preparation, on fun field trips, and more. Establish a routine that incorporates both play time and a time for doing the exercises, and be sure to reinforce good speaking and communication habits with positive feedback.   In addition to performing at-home exercises, it’s also important to encourage your child to speak and express themselves as often as possible. Here are some ways you can engender meaningful communication with your child throughout the day:
  • Ask open-ended questions: Ask your child questions that will help them use their vocabulary to describe objects and express their feelings. Avoid questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no,” but instead, ask them to describe what they see, what they are feeling, or what they are experiencing.

  • Stay informed about what they’re learning in school: If your child is attending school, ask them about what they learned in class – explore the topics together and ask them questions about what they think and how they feel about what they are learning.

  • Read together and ask questions about the story: Story time as an excellent opportunity to encourage communication. Ask your child what they like about the story, what they think is happening or is going to happen next. Asking questions like these also helps improve the child’s cognitive function, reasoning, memory, and problem solving skills.

  • Listen: When your child is speaking, be sure to listen. Avoid firing off multiple questions, and allow your child to finish their stream of thought. Be patient if they have trouble finding words or articulating them.

  Looking for additional ways to incorporate speech therapy into your child’s day? Contact us at   We we work with children of all ages, and help parents learn the best ways to help their child improve their speech at home. You can also call us at (415) 567-8133 to schedule a consultation. We look forward to speaking with you!