How much screen time should you let your child have? Find out here
10 December 2018| Last updated on 31 December 2018
Parenting brings a whole host of new challenges, especially when it comes to “screen time”. Children are now born into a world of digital devices and screens are everywhere in the environment. This wonderful technology helps us learn about the world, connect with others and can be an enjoyable activity to do together. Screens are here to stay so it is important for parents to stay informed and find the right mix of flexibility and balance when utilizing these devices.
- Parents need to look at their own habits first and then reflect on their children’s use of screens.
- Children are great imitators so if they see their parents focused on something they will want to be engaged as well.
- Consider the idea of “Digital Nutrition” and your own media diet. Look at your relationship to technology and the role it plays in your family life.
- Using screens to soothe or pacify children sets up some concerning patterns of relying on devices to calm or distract a child from their experience of unpleasant or uncomfortable emotions.
- Consider times when technology is interrupting family time and how your children may be attention seeking in negative ways to get your attention back. How are you responding?
- Consider creating unplugged times of the day and in certain area of your home, prioritizing family time and play, and having rules like device curfews.
- An important thing to consider is whether parents and children are playing, watching or browsing together.
What do we know about Child Development?
- Children learn by seeing, touching, hearing, smelling and tasting. They learn by interacting and doing!
- Children under 5 years have difficulty understanding the difference between what is real and what is pretend. Images on screens can be scary and stressful.
- Children need to be running, talking, socializing, problem-solving, exploring, building, and PLAYING.
What is Research about Screen time and Technology use showing us?
- Using digital platforms may change the way you think and read text.
- Screen time can increase attention deficit, cognitive delays, impaired learning, increased impulsivity and decreased ability to self-regulate.
- Technology use restricts movement which can result in delayed physical development and increases obesity.
- Excessive screen time use causes sleep deprivation, aggression, problematic child behavior and addiction.
What do Paediatrician’s recommend?
14 Family Screen time rules to Consider for your Family
- Set a limit for the time on screens. Use a timer to track the time otherwise it will go on longer than you think. Give a warning that the time is almost up.
- Turn off “background T.V.” as this decreases the use of speech, draws children’s focus and distracts them from play.
- Keep all screens out of the bedroom to prevent sleeping problems.
- Don’t eat in front of screens as it creates mindless eating habits. Turn off the electronics during meal times to encourage conversation, good eating habits and good manners.
- Be a good example yourself of regulating screen use.
- Talk to other adults in your child’s life about your family screen time rules and expectations.
- Make a family screen time plan - focus on educational screen time activities, when and where screens can be used and for how long.
- Set up active times and play with your child daily with no screens or phones interfering.
- Have children earn their screen time by using a ticket or reward system by doing chores at home, reading, playing with a sibling or doing homework.
- Redirect your children to other activities - especially to the outdoors when the weather is nice!
- Turn off allscreens ONE HOUR before bed as the blue light acts as stimulation to the brain.
- Consider using screen time as just a weekend activity for school-aged children or use it just during travel times.
- Find things to do together and rotate your children’s toys so the interest level stays high for other activities.
- Use parental controls on devices.
Parents should be doing what they can to ensure that what they are watching, playing and reading is high quality, age appropriate and safe and join in wherever possible.
For children, there has to be a balance in the online and offline worlds in leisure and learning.
It’s definitely true that in addition to entertainment, the media can offer rich learning experiences that would be otherwise unattainable. Even so, kids need to sleep, play, talk and explore their wondrous world — in real life.