HCDE Back-to-School Tips: Designate device-free time

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August 11, 2021 by HCDE-Texas

In an ever more virtual world, it is increasingly important for parents to encourage children to break away from the screens. According to research, 36% of American children under age 1 have interacted with a mobile device. [1] Meanwhile, 95% of teens have access to a smartphone; 45% of teens say they are online almost all the time. [2]

Prior to the explosion of apps and games aimed at young children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offered parents specific guidelines for managing children’s screen time. Previous guidelines discouraged screen time for children under age 2 and recommended limiting “screen time” to two hours a day for children over age 2.

Since observed changes in how media impacts children, the AAP has released expanded and more relaxed guidelines.

Here are a few ideas you can implement to help your child make the most of this back-to-school season:

Designate device-free time

Create media-free times & areas in your home

It is important to preserve family time. Make meals or bedtime routine media-free. These limits encourage family time, healthier eating habits and healthier sleep.

Be a good role model

Limit your own media use, and model this behavior for your children. Attentive parenting requires you to spend quality time with your kids away from screens.

Content matters

The quality of content is more important than the platform or time spent with media. Prioritize how your child spends his or her screen time rather than just setting a timer.


  1. Kemp C. Babies as young as 6 months using mobile media. AAP News.2015; 36(10). doi:10.1542/aapnews.20150425-3
  2. Pew Resaerch Center. Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018. Updated May 31, 2018.

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