Read our blog for expert guidelines and tips to help you manage your family's screen time.

It’s not enough to parent our children anymore - we now must be both parent and media mentor.

So, what is a media mentor? Glad you asked.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a media mentor is a parent (or trusted adult) who teaches kids “how to use it as a tool to create, connect and learn.”

The risks of social media, which include cyberbullying, mental health, and invasion of privacy, demand that parents and trusted adults take a more active role in mentoring their kid’s through this largely unknown and ever-developing territory.

While the idea of teaching our kids how to use media as a tool to create, connect and learn may make some of us chuckle (I mean c’mon, half the time they’re mentoring us), it is a responsibility that we shouldn't take likely.

Before monitoring your kid's screen time use, it’s important to first assess our own. For example: Are you addicted to your smartphone? If you’re not sure, take the quiz!

Once you have a clear idea of where you stand, you can better perceive where your kids' digital habits stand and pinpoint exactly how they got there.

Screen Time Strategies for Kids of All Ages

Here are a few age-specific guidelines from the AAP’s policy statement authored by the Council on Communications and Media to get you started.

Under 18 Months

  • Limit media exposure to video-chatting only.
  • Focus more on the development of your kid’s cognitive, language, sensorimotor, and social-emotional skills.  
  • Aim for high-quality programming (think PBS, Sesame Street, and Mister Roger’s Neighborhood) and a limited amount of exposure.
  • Make it a family affair by watching it with them and help them to process what they’re seeing.
  • High-quality programming can help prepare their minds for school, but in-person social interactions prepares them for the world.

18-24 Months

  • Again, aim for high quality programming and exceed no more than an hour per day.
  • Continue making it a family affair but expand upon what they’re seeing by relating it to the world around them.

Ages 2-5

  • There’s physical activity beyond the Wii. Keep your kids physically active and properly caring for their growing bodies with good exercise.
  • For those who are in daycare or some type of schooling, this is a terrific opportunity to begin instilling positive lifelong habits, like no media use while doing homework.

Ages 6 and Older

  • Develop a family media contract to help everyone learn how to integrate media into their daily lives as healthy a manner as possible. This includes media-free family time and activities, as well as locations throughout the home.
  • The golden rule applies online too. Keep the lines of communication open when it comes to “online citizenship and safety.”
  • Remember that it takes a village to raise a kid, especially in the digital age. Be sure that all the adults in your kid’s life are one the same page about what media use is and is not acceptable.

Read the full policy statement here and check out the technical statement, Children and Adolescents and Digital Media, here.

Also read Screen Time is About More Than Just Setting Limits.

About Syreeta Martin

Sincerely Syreeta is the mother of two daughters who remind her to Empathize, Empower, and EVOLVE every day. She is a freelance journalist, talk show host, life coach, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur based out of Philadelphia, PA.

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