According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children today spend an average of seven hours a day using electronic equipment for entertainment purposes. Seven hours! That includes TV, iPads, computers, phones and movies. Seven hours!
I know a mother of young children who has banned all electronic equipment—except when used for homework assignments—during the school week. On weekends her children can watch for a half hour on Saturdays and a half hour on Sundays. Now when her second grader is bored, he picks up a book, sometimes reading to his younger sibling.
How much electronic equipment is recommended, according to the AAP?
- Under 18 months—none
- 18 to 24 months—up to an hour a day with parental involvement
- 2 to 5 years—up to an hour a day
- 6 years and older—unspecified, but a family media plan is encouraged.
If your child has enough time to watch TV or to play video games, he has enough time to read. The first three weeks might be hard on you and him as he withdraws from electronic media and switches to reading. You might need to read to him, or to read every other page, or to sit at his side while you sort laundry and listen to him read. But if you do, eventually he will understand that reading is the new normal and that whining and pouting will get him nowhere.
If you are a working parent, and you come home tired, I sympathize. Keep your eye on the long-term goal: a well-educated child whose mind is not addicted to anime or to cartoons.
Encouraging your child to read is one of the best things you can do for the overall success of your child.