For the first time, children have access to electronic devices that instantly connect them to the world. And while the power of technology has given us remarkable advancements in learning, communication and connectivity, there is a catch.
The catch is that our children are using screens for hours every day. Unlimited screen time has harmful emotional and behavioural consequences in the long run. Therefore, it’s up to teachers and caregivers to work together to help children manage their screen time.
But is it all bad? Are screens really dangerous? What does research tell us about screen time?
Recent research shows that children who have more than 2 hours of screen time a day are more likely to have emotional, social and attention challenges. The light emitted from a screen interferes with brain and sleep patterns which impact quality of sleep, ability to concentrate and restlessness.
Not to mention that more screen time means more sedentary time which can lead to weight gain and even obesity and while this blog is aimed at young children and screen time, it is important to note that many children reported feeling unimportant when adults look at their smartphones or devices while playing or enjoying a meal together. Over the long-term this can diminish important relationships, and even the value of a connection between family members.
Not to mention that too much screen time led to some children preferring a screen over a conversation with family members or an important and meaningful event. When we look at data, health experts recommend that children under 5 have no more than an hour of ‘sedentary screen time’ each day. Children under 1 should not be exposed to screens at all.
And the WHO recommends adults limit screen time for under 5s or do not provide it at all. But before we rule out devices, there are positive benefits. When children had managed screen time they were able to improve motor skills and coordination. The internet also offers a fun way to communicate and when used correctly can enhance relationships.
Not to mention that children love watching their favourite characters on screen. They are able to learn and have fun at the same time, and it is because of these benefits that using screen correctly has a positive short and long-term impact on our children.
What should kids use screens for?
Preschoolers aged 2 to 5 should have no more than 1 hour of screen time a day. It is important to note that video calling with family or interacting with loved ones is quality family time and should not count as screen time.
The best way to use screen time is to spend time with your child. Whether you spend the hour playing games, watching a show or exploring the internet together, the hour will be more fruitful alongside your child. If you would like your child to have solo screen time, then try using educational apps.
There are a range of highly recommended apps that you can find with a quick search online. And when using these apps, an hour can pass in the blink of an eye. Which is why, when screen time comes to an end, children may ask for more.
There are a few steps you can take to effectively limit or reduce screen time. How to effectively manage screen time–
A simple solution to reducing screen time is to fill your child’s day with structured activities or a routine. When screen time is over, if your child has something else to do, they are more likely to put the device away. Make a rule that there are no screens during meals or before bed. In fact, if possible, keep devices far away from the bedroom. Devices can significantly impact quality of sleep.
If you would like a more complete overview of screen time and app use, you can use applications. Applications that make managing screen time easy. Sometimes even the best structure and rules can not stop a few extra hours of screen time. It’s hard enough keeping track of our own day to day routine. Which is why screen time apps help parents track time, manage apps, avoid suspicious content and bad words.
Here are some suggestions for Parental Control apps:
This app lets you manage screen time, put in place restrictions and even block access once the screen time limit has been reached. You can also track SMS and suspicious messages.
Dinner Time Plus is a free app that allows you to set a screen time usage so you can enjoy a meal with your kids. This application has dinner and bedtime control functions.
This application allows you to approve and block the apps your child accesses. It also lets you watch over which apps are being used and supports numerous devices.
By reducing screen time, we make sure our children have ample time to stay healthy, have lots of interaction in their lives and enjoy the benefits of screen time.