Screen Time for Kids
Although the advancements in technology have great benefits for our children, do we need a revival of the importance of being human? Is screen time having a negative impact on our children?
Growing up, most of us would remember our childhood days being filled with bike rides around the neighbourhood streets, building cubby houses and swinging around the clothesline.
There was little time for TV and our clothes were always stained with the evidence of our fort building abilities.
Screen time is known as the amount of time that is spent each day using devices with screens such as tablets, TV’s, Computers and Smartphones.
Nowadays parents are wondering, do we want our children to be phenomenal football gamers or phenomenal football players?
It’s important that as parents we limit daily usage, because nothing beats real- life experiences and interactions. This means our children can have a great balance of both, with a more well-rounded sense of well-being, learning and development.
We also don’t want to be limiting them so much that they are not at the same level as the peers in their class. It is a reality that in schools now they are using tablets and computers in prep, so even though we may be thinking wow that’s young! It is also the way of the world now.
Screen time can be:
- Interactive – for example, playing video games, communicating via Skype, or using online tools to draw pictures
- Non interactive – for example, sitting still and watching movies, TV programs or YouTube videos
- Educational – for example, doing maths homework online
- Recreational – for example, playing games or watching videos for fun.
What kids are doing on screens is much more important than how much time they’re spending on them.
Good-quality media can be good for your child’s learning, especially if it ties in with their interests or sparks their imagination. The app or games may encourage creativity by getting your child to draw a picture or encourage problem solving by asking your child to pick a colour and match objects.
Other things to think about is your child’s age range and the privacy settings on the apps, make sure you’re comfortable with what data will be collected and used for potential re-targeted advertising.
With TV shows, try and ensure that the program has positive messages that are aligned with your views on relationships, family and life.
You may be surprised at the amount of children’s shows that can still have characters that promote a level of violence or behaviour that you may believe to be inappropriate.
HERE ARE SOME GUIDELINES TO CONSIDER:
- It can be tricky when you have more than one child but try and avoid screen time for children under 18 months (other than video-chatting)
- Children aged 18 months to 2 years should watch or use high-quality programs or apps if adults watch or play with them to help them understand what they’re seeing
- Children aged 2-5 years should try to be limited to no more than one hour a day of screen time with adults watching or playing with them
- Children aged 6 years and older should have consistent limits on the time they spend on electronic media and the types of media they use. Its best at this time to also have some type of parental lock in place, the last thing we want is for our children to spot something a little too adult!
BENEFITS OF SCREEN TIME
- Getting involved together with your child to help them make good choices about what to play or watch
- Opens up the chance for you to be able to talk with your child about certain topics and have them understand rather than what you may have been able to express verbally
- Good quality content can enhance their development
- Using screens gives your child new ideas for traditional play – for example, playing Minecraft might get your child interested in designing buildings on paper
- Using screens can help your child learn new skills – for example, doing a video about a school excursion might help your child understand more about video-editing
- Gives them the chance to learn in different ways: ie they may learn colours through a sing along or puzzle
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF SCREEN TIME
- Looking at a screen intensely for too long can cause sore, irritated and dry eyes, headaches and fatigue
- Being inactive for long periods using a screen can lead to a less active lifestyle, which could lead to obesity and neck or spine discomfort
- Too much screen time can have a negative effect on your child’s language development & social skills
- It can affect their ability to deal with real-life interactions, simple things like having a conversation, maintaining eye contact, reading body language and paying attention in school
- Encountering dangerous people or material on the internet (make sure appropriate parental lock features are set in place and explain to your children about why they don’t share personal details online)
- Negative influences on behaviour
We hope this has helped you with what you feel the right amount of screen time is for your family. Remember, even though times are changing it doesn’t mean that we still can’t encourage them to do the activities that we so fondly remember doing as kids.