Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

March 14, 2022

Tips for Making Screen Time Active

By: Justine McEvoy, CCC-SLP

Active screen time generates:

  • Two-way communication
  • Encourages language use
  • Involves family members and friends

Ways to make screen time active:

  • Playing games (i.e., memory, digital board games)
  • Video chatting with family and friends
  • Narrate what is happening on the screen (video, show, game)
    • Press pause to ask a question, add commentary, or point out an interesting fact (i.e., “What color is the bear?” “I see the ball.” “Jump! Go!” “Bears are my favorite animal. What’s your favorite?”)
    • Repeat what is said, pause to see if the child will also repeat
    • If engaged with a learning app, repeat and then reinforce the lesson to make it contextual (i.e., colors and shapes: “Look! The book is a red rectangle.” “Blue! Your shirt is blue.” or “Let’s go find the red and yellow cars.”)
  • Read a digital book or follow along to a story being read, adding commentary to the story
  • Engage in a physical activity class by modeling and encouraging activity (i.e., yoga, dancing, stretching)
  • Simply ask what the child is watching/playing, encourage description (i.e., “Tell me more.”)

Suggested apps & websites to engage with your child in during screen time:

Reading: Epic –,

Physical: Cosmic Kids Yoga (yoga), GoNoodle (dancing), Sworkit (variety of classes)

Educational: ABC Mouse, Starfall, Homer Learning, Little Stars – Toddler Games

**Note**: “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time prior to 18 months, and limiting screen use to an hour per day for children up through age 5. Recent research found that every additional half-hour of screen time over recommended times increased the child’s risk for expressive language delays by 49 percent.”(; 2018)

Alternatives to screen time:

  • Free play with toys
  • Arts & crafts (i.e., playdoh, coloring)
  • Play outside or take a walk
  • Read to your child
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Board games
  • Sing songs or enjoy music
  • Puzzles
  • Help with chores
  • Talking!!!! (about anything!)

Shared screen time vs handheld devices:

  • Shared screen time = TV: all are watching the same content in a stationary location where commentary can be made
  • Handheld devices = tablet, phone: individual, isolated, mobile, typically passive screen time

Screens are addictive:

  • Screens become additive and can reinforce negative behavior
  • Providing the screen to comfort from screaming or crying only reinforces the negative behavior; in other words, it teaches the child to request via tantrum. Try to give the device only when the child is calm.
  • Limit screen time with help from a schedule or timer, let the child know ahead of time
  • Turn screen to grayscale = less desirable
  • Do not provide the charger when it runs out of battery = a finite time

AAC vs screen time:

  • Limited screen time does not apply to AAC devices used specifically for communication!
  • A child should always have access to their AAC device for communication purposes


Neal, Angie. “Screen Use in Children and Impact on Development: What Has Changed?” Accessed 9 Mar. 2022. 

Paul, Diane. “Screen Time: New Resource Helps Achieve a Healthy Balance.” The ASHA Leader, 13 Nov. 2020, Accessed 9 Mar. 2022.