cHILDREN are spending more time looking at screens than they used to. There’s no doubt about that.
The main reason is there are just so many screens available to them now.
Not only is it the TV, but tablets and smartphones too.
There’s nothing wrong with a little screen time. In fact, it many cases it can be beneficial.
But parents are rightfully cautious about not overdoing it.
The question is – what does that mean? How much screen time is too much, before it starts to hinder a child’s development?
This blog will help you decide when to take the screens away.
What is Screen Time?
Before we start looking at how to limit screen time, we have to understand what it is.
The simple definition is any time your child is watching something that has a screen.
That could be the TV, a computer monitor, a tablet or mobile phone device.
You might not realise how much screen time your child is getting. Lots of activities require looking at a screen.
They might be playing games, watching TV, or doing something educational – like homework on the computer.
Not accounting for how often they’re sat looking at a smartphone. This is becoming more and more common.
The Risks of Too Much Screen Time
So, what are the actual dangers of sitting in front of a screen for too long?
The risks are both physical and psychological.
First, it can be bad for your eyes. They could feel sore or irritated – particularly for children, whose bodies are still growing and changing every day.
It can also cause neck and back problems, if they’re constantly looking down at a device in their hands.
In addition to this, too much screen time can impact a child’s development.
Children need real-life interactions with people. If they spend too much time on a device, and not enough time with actual people – it can prevent them from developing language and social skills.
How Much Screen Time Should They Get?
It really depends on their age.
Those younger than 18 months should have minimal time in front of a screen, ideally none at all, according to experts.
It won’t hurt every now and again, but it shouldn’t be every day.
As they get older, they should be allowed a little more screen time than they were previously.
So between 18 months and two years, a little time in front of the TV, or watching videos on a mobile device, is definitely acceptable.
Between two and five, they can spend an hour every day doing this.
After that, gradually increase the amount by a little every year. Not to the point where they’re allowed 10 hours every day – but you have to give them a sense of freedom as they get older.
The Benefits of Some Screen Time
Not all screen time is bad. It’s important to remember that.
We used the example before of children doing their homework on a computer. This is a skill they’ll need more and more of as they get older.
For younger children, playing games and watching videos can have a positive impact on their development – if their time is managed properly.
Games and apps can help them be more creative, teach them things, introduce them to words they weren’t already familiar with, etc.
And if you get involved, it can be a good bonding experience between you and your child.
Like we say, there are certainly benefits to screen time. As long as it’s done in moderation, you should be fine.