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How to Pick Appropriate Movies and Screen-Time Activities for Your Family

Sitting on the couch, eating popcorn, and watching a movie is a favorite family activity.  Many families enjoy watching movies and TV shows together.  However, a lot of parents have questions about sharing media with their kids.  How much screen time is too much?  How do you know if a movie is appropriate?  Here are some answers to these common questions.

How Much Time Should Children Spend Watching Movies And Screen-Time?

Here are some guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for children at different ages.

  • Under 18 months – screen time should only be used for video chatting.
  • For children 18-24 months – watch high-quality programming with your child.
  • For children 2 – 5 years old – try to limit screen time to 1 hour a day of high-quality programming.  It is recommended that parents watch and use media with their children and help them apply what they see to the world around them.  For example,  a parent could say to their child, “Baby Bear got mad when he had to share at school.  Is it hard to share toys?”
  • For children ages 6 and up, guidelines put more emphasis on parents setting limits that reflect their values.
  • Limits should be consistent
  • Screen time should not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity, or time with friends and family

How to Know if Your Child is Having Too Many Movies And Screen-Time?

Some symptoms of too much screen time are:

  • Irritability
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of interest in other activities
  • Seeming pre-occupied with watching a show or playing a game
  • Behavioral concerns
  • Loss of sleep

How To Pick Appropriate Movies And Screen-Time Activities For Your Child

It can be difficult to know if a movie or game is appropriate for your child.  Here are some ways make choices for your child.

  • It may be helpful to think about what are the most important values you want for your child to learn from you. Maybe it is the value of hard work or honesty or kindness.  Knowing what you want for your child to learn, can help you discriminate between movies that fit these values and those that don’t.
  • You can find information about movies including age recommendations and relevant questions to ask your child here.
  • You may want to see some movies or play some games before you share them with your children. It would be impossible for you to watch every movie that you share with your children but for some movies that you really question, watching ahead of time might be helpful.
  • If you are questioning a movie, ask friends or family members who share your values, about a movie.
  • Watch new movies with your child. Talk to your child about what they have seen.  Talk about the difference between movies and real life.  Ask your child what he or she thinks about what you are watching.

If you have any concerns about your child’s emotional or behavioral health, you may want to seek out a child therapist for an evaluation and suggestions.

A lot of parents are trying to figure out how to parent in an electronic world.  This post is part of a series by Ms. Luria on how to navigate media in order to meet your parenting goals and keep your children safe.  Next post is focusing on how to pick appropriate movies for your family.

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