How much screen time is too much?
As a parent, you probably find your child’s use of phones, tablets, and TV to be a mixed blessing. It keeps them occupied, and can even help develop cognitive and comprehension skills – but there’s always a nagging feeling that they should really be outside being active, or at least a bit more engaged with their environment. Of course, the digital world is, in fact, a part of our environment these days, and it isn’t required to cut screen time altogether for kids over the age of two. The quality of kids’ screen time can vary immensely, though, so it’s up to mums and dads to take responsibility for the type and duration of digital interaction their children pursue.
From old-school TV show Sesame Street to educational apps such as Wild Kratts Creature Math, it is possible to keep your little ones entertained while secretly helping them to learn. But too much time on the screen, even for pre-vetted distractions, can still lead to anxiety, depression, and obesity. Reducing screen time takes a blend of discipline and imagination (even if you’re using some screen time limit app) – we all know how sensitive children can be to the idea of their little freedoms being taken away. The discipline also extends to the grown-ups: it is essential that parents ensure they are consistent with the rules, and that others in the household uphold the new system too.
There are plenty of simple methods to bring down the time your kid spends in front of a TV or computer, not to mention apps to limit screen time on mobile devices. Of course, it helps to find non-screen based alternatives, such as sports, hobbies, and games. You will also do well to lead by example, and to observe the rules yourself as far as possible. Storing electronic devices out of sight will likewise temper your household’s culture of handling gadgets. For more screen time recommendations on how to align your kid’s digital needs with those of their general wellbeing, be sure to check out this infographic. It can help you to assess just how much screen time is too much – and to take friendly, helpful steps where necessary.
Yu, W. TV and Kids. How to cut screen time. webmd.com
De Lange, C. Children benefit from the right sort of screen time. www.newscientist.com
US National Library of Medicine. Screen time and Children. nlm.nih.gov
App Store. Educational apps for children. play.google.com
Brandt, C. The best educational apps for kids. Parents.com
PBS Kids. Wild Kratts Creature Math. Pbskids.org