Screen Time vs. Traditional Play: Keeping Kids Balanced

“Go play!” Who hasn’t heard this from their parents? This phrase meant spending time outside, with friends, or playing with traditional toys for generations of kids.

And then there was a pandemic. But even before that, today’s pop culture, entices young children away from conventional play (blocks, puzzles, books, trucks, dolls, and pretend) by the lure of screen time on electronic devices.

According to the Pew Research Center, 26% of US parents surveyed reported that their children aged 11 or younger spend too much time on smartphones or playing video games.

Pew Research also noted that a whopping 60 percent of children “began engaging with a smartphone before the age of 5.”

The Case for Reading

The American Academy of Pediatrics proposes that children between the ages of two and five have no more than one hour of screen time per day, a recommendation some disagree with.

“I don’t advise giving young children access to electronic devices or screens at all during early childhood,” said Dr. Errol Baptist, MD, FAAP Baptist, who maintains a thriving practice and teaches medical students as a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford.

“What I tell parents from the beginning is that children should learn how to read. Reading to children starts during pregnancy. From that point onward, parents should encourage children to read, first with picture books and then with books containing prose."

"The important thing is to emphasize reading, learning, and acquiring knowledge; not learning how to kill someone in a video game.”

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