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Expert provides tips on balancing screen time for your child's mental health

Experts say more time interacting on a device is less time your child could be doing other beneficial activities.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Between computers, smart phones, and TVs, we spend a lot of our time in front of screens, which experts say could be detrimental to a child's mental health.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents limit screen time to an hour. If parents go over that time limit, they should keep the media educational.

Doctor Mary Fristad, director of academic affairs and research development at Nationwide Children's Hospital, says educational workshops and programing can have developmental benefits.

“We have good science behind how that really helps with literacy, how it helps with pro-social development, because of the lessons embedded in the social in Sesame Street workshop, great resources for families of that two- to five-year-old range,” said Fristad.

Fristad says communicating with family over video chat is also another reason to expand screen access in children.

The more time spent interacting on a device is less time doing other beneficial activities, Fristad explained.

“If I were to say the two things that kids really miss out on when they are exclusively on their screens or playing video games is that they're not physically challenging their bodies and remaining physically, as well as mentally and emotionally healthy,” said Fristad. “We know that aerobic exercise is really good for mental health. But you also have many kids not getting enough sleep. If your phone is under your pillow at night, it means that you are prepared to wake up throughout the night when it pings and purrs at you. And it can be both the blue light that's emitted from the phone, as well as the content of the phone.”

Fristad also recommend putting the phone down at dinner time and for parents to limit time on the phone to set an example.

“I would suggest that there be some zone free areas, and then also time free areas. So an hour before going to bed, shut off the phone, shut off all screens, because again, you've got the blue light being emitted, which physiologically makes it harder to wind down and fall asleep,” said Fristad.

For examples on media planning with your family, click here.

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