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Small kids are spending 10x more time in front of small screens

The good news: TV time is down for the littlest of kiddos versus 2011. ?

Small kids are spending 10x more time in front of small screens

Six years doesn’t seem that long ago to many of us, but a lot has changed in terms of technology use: For kids younger than 8 years old, average daily screen time on handheld devices is up 10 times over 2011, according to Common Sense Media’s 2017 census.


But while this stat isn’t necessarily something to be celebrated, it’s only one piece of the larger painting about how kids and families are interacting with screens today. As a whole, it seems we’re doing pretty good jobs at striking balance with those screens.

According to the new report from nonprofit Common Sense Media, young kids spent about five minutes a day on a phone or tablet back in 2011. In the years since, handheld screen time has steadily escalated—with the average little one of today using a mobile screen for 48 minutes.

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The good news is that while mobile use by kids younger than 8 years old is up, TV time for babies is down.

In 2013, kids under 2 years old spent 58 minutes a day engaged with screen media; that’s down to 42 minutes now. This makes sense, as pediatric guidelines for limiting screen time are strictest for kids under 2—and market reports show sales on DVDs and videos for infants are down.

“There really is fairly strong evidence that time spent with screens can have a negative effect on kids’ language and other forms of development,” Matthew Johnson, the Director of Education for MediaSmarts, previously told Motherly.

He said this isn’t because screens are inherently bad, but they should not be used as substitutions for the kinds of human interaction and creative play that young kids need to develop. (This doesn’t include the videos or games that Common Sense Media found are favorites for little kids.)

One thing is clear from the report: Screen time is part of daily life for many families, and it’s up to parents to make mindful choices about how—and how often—our kids engage with screen-based technology.

Back in 2011, that meant stepping away from the TV more often—while, today, it means putting that cell phone on airplane mode.

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    14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

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    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

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    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

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    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

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    Detective set

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    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

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    Water play set

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    Mini golf set

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    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

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    Vintage scooter balance bike

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    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

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    Wooden rocking pegasus

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    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

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    Croquet set

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    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

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    Wooden digital camera

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    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

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    Wooden bulldozer toy

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    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

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    Pull-along hippo

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    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

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    Baby forest fox ride-on

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    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

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    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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