Kids' screen time spikes 500% during pandemic — Here's how to manage it

how to manage kids' screen time during the pandemic
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(WWJ) Children are using electronic devices more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic — but what can be done about it?

In a survey by the nonprofit Parents Together, nearly half of families that responded said screen time in their homes has skyrocketed in recent months.

In fact, the poll showed a 500% increase in the number of kids spending 6 hours or more per day online — with many parents saying they're concerned about their kids becoming addicted to screens.

Sharon Raglund-Keys, owner of College Nannies, Sitters and Tutors, told WWJ Newsradio 950's Brooke Allen there are simple ways to cut down on screen time.

"Setting boundaries around activities associated with being on screens that maybe are video games and things of that nature, perhaps eliminate some of that during the work week and school week," Raglund-Keys said. "And then they can be on screens on the weekend. You know, maybe catching up with friends and grandparents, video chatting."

Raglund-Keys said it's also a good idea to set an expectation of when screens go offline for the day.

"Maybe it's 5 p.m. — right before dinner — and kids are getting ready for bed," she said. "And that will help also with eliminating some of the screen time, because we know that they have to be on their screens for a portion of the day because of school being remote."

Raglund-Keys said reading and crafts are also good alternatives to devices, or just bundle up and head outside!

The American Academy of Pediatrics says your child is never too young for a screen time plan.

Consider the following guidelines:

- Until 18 months of age limit screen use to video chatting along with an adult (for example, with a parent who is out of town).
- Between 18 and 24 months screen time should be limited to watching educational programming with a caregiver.
- For children 2-5, limit non-educational screen time to about 1 hour per weekday and 3 hours on the weekend days.
- For ages 6 and older, encourage healthy habits and limit activities that include screens.
- Turn off all screens during family meals and outings.
- Learn about and use parental controls.
- Avoid using screens as pacifiers, babysitters, or to stop tantrums.

Get more tips on screen time HERE.