There’s a lot of programming for children out there, so it’s wise to stick with the shows you know and trust. For younger children, opt for educational programming like Sesame Street. It’s also worth placing more attention on slower-paced shows like Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood or Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting, rather than super-stimulating cartoons with lots of action and little dialogue. Slower-paced shows are more like real-life scenarios, which may help keep overstimulation at bay.
Variety is crucial for a developing, growing brain. “If they’re watching a cartoon or educational program in the morning, then try to switch it up in the afternoon with some kind of interactive online activity,” suggests Dr. Cross. Check out trusted sources like PBS Kids, which sends out a daily newsletter with show and activity ideas, or “Google local museums, aquariums, or zoos to see if they’re offering some virtual tours or streaming programs you can take advantage of,” says Dr. Cross.
Don’t forget to incorporate non-screen-time activities into the day when you can: “If your schedule allows, go for a quick family walk around midday to get some physical activity. This is also the time to bust out all the coloring books, art supplies, Legos, puzzles, even audiobooks and podcasts — anything that gives them some variety,” advises Dr. Cross.