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  • Writer's pictureLil' People's World

Managing Screen Time for Children

Through our three decades in early childhood education, we’ve seen technology’s evolution through an additional lens: its presence in a child’s life. 


Group of early childhood education kids sitting and listening attentively to a story during reading time at LPW Bellevue.
Captivated by the magic of storytelling, our little learners soak up every word during storytime.

Over the years, devices we never knew as children have become second nature to toddlers and items we couldn’t imagine living without. The overuse of our devices and their continuous visual stimulation can have a negative impact—socially, emotionally, and physically.  Inevitably, technology will continue to blossom; therefore, it is important that we establish a healthy balance between onscreen and offscreen time, especially for our kids. 


Children are constantly on the move; this is how they adapt to their rapidly growing bodies and minds and the world around them. During this time of stimulation overload, kids need outlets to continue being the mini Energizer bunnies that they are. They also need cues to relax and reset their attention. Although screen time is certainly an effective method for occupying the curious young mind, its moderation is essential.





We’re no strangers to falling under the spell of screen time’s tempting lure and instant gratifications (outside of the classroom, of course). So, we understand the hold it has on kids, especially since they’re naturally drawn to visual and auditory stimuli. As technology’s influence grows stronger, so does our dedication to cultivating experiences that a screen could never replicate.


 

Offscreen Time Is an Opportunity for Creativity


Children observing birds at the bird watching station, surrounded by trees and nature
Exploring nature's wonders at our bird watching station!

At Lil’ People’s World, we prioritize the power of offscreen time and use it meaningfully. We introduce positive outlets for restlessness and entertainment that can be replicated outside the classroom. 


Hands-on, creative activities and interpersonal learning initiatives are monumental in early childhood development and are core elements of our curriculum. Children are susceptible to mirroring their trusted adult influences, probably more often than any of us realize. This roots our philosophy at Lil’ People’s Word that the more we grown-ups build excitement around offscreen time and exemplify using our devices in moderation, the more our kids will feel inclined to do the same. 



In our care, we rely on play and other prompted activities that get children moving to help their minds stay active alongside their classroom peers. The structure of our daily routine and teachers’ use of common preschool phrases—like “Walking feet!” “Gentle touches,” or “Catch a bubble”—help settle the kids’ busy minds and redirect their focus on the current moment. The harmony of these efforts sets positive, attention-specific expectations and can reduce children’s screen time temptation overall.


We encourage parents to cultivate similar engagements at home to redirect attention from the screen and positively reinforce using other outlets for the same purpose. Offer children a scenario rather than a screen, helping structure imaginative play. And don’t be afraid to jump in. You’d be surprised how quickly your influence can change your kiddo’s habits!


 

Some Screentime Is Okay!


Learning through play: Children exploring toys and activities at LPW Bellevue.
At Lil' People's World, our kids choose real-life adventures over screen time!

Of course, screen time shouldn’t be cut out altogether! Not only is it “virtually” impossible to do so in our digital world, but it also has its perks—even in early childhood education. Offering screens to co-teach is a well-thought-out way to present an idea or movement that needs visual instruction. Screens can play a significant role in the pronunciation of words for young children, while with a group of children, they all learn together actively and socially. 


There’s no question that screen time has its perks at home too—especially when we busy parents are unable to facilitate hands-on activities. Although there’s no easy answer or “right” amount of screen time exposure to follow, we can be here as role models and co-viewers in moderating this delicate balance.  


 

Five Tips for Managing Children’s Screen Time


Kids immersed in sensory play activity at Lil' People's World Bellevue, fostering early childhood education and preschool development.
Exploring the senses and nurturing young minds at Lil' People's World Bellevue!

We encourage parents to reflect on managing screen time use and the stances they intend to uphold. Once you’ve taken some time to collect your thoughts or advice on the subject, consider mapping out a plan to use as your online guidelines now and as your child grows.


To help get your wheels turning, here are some helpful tips from our Lil’ People’s World family:

  1. Set restrictions on individual devices for what media can be played and/or what sites can be accessed.

  2. Set timers and limits for online activities. We recommend having time allotted for online learning as well as supervised entertainment.

  3. Create an “Internet Safety Scavenger Hunt” for a fun way to teach media safety and awareness. 

  4. Practice offscreen time together, showing that limiting screen time isn’t only important for kids.

  5. Set a household “technology curfew” to establish consistent browsing boundaries and a healthy shut-off time. For toddlers, simply remember to turn off devices within their reach. Constant access to their visual and auditory stimuli can become habit-forming and lead to negative health concerns.


 

Navigating screen time and all things technology with your kiddos is no easy feat, but what’s most important is that you do what works for you and your family. Stay informed and engaged; children need you and cherish the time you spend together the most. 


Lil’ People’s World strives to strengthen parent involvement and community support for all of our centers, knowing that we’re all helping to raise our future communities. We’re in this together and will always be focused on what is best for our children.


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