There are always lots of heated debates among parents and researchers around the topic of recommended screen time for children. Is it an hour daily? What if children are doing their homework with iPads? Adults find it challenging to limit a kid’s screen time. In fact, it is the behavior of consuming entertainment with media that we want to limit. So in this post, we will look into why and how parents limit their child’s screen time.
First Code Forum: Ann Bridgewater sharing her insights on raising kids in the digital era at our Sheung Wan Campus
Screen Time for Toddlers and School Children
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), professional association of pediatricians that addresses pediatric healthcare standard, used to discourage screen time for children from 0 to 2 years old. Recently, AAP announced new guidelines for baby or toddler of younger than 18 months that they could use technology if it involves video chatting like Skype.
According to Ann, the main reason for parents to limit children’s screen time is to strike a balance for children in tinkering technology devices and engaging in other activities such as sports, painting and more. Taking young children as an example, toddlers should have limited screen time because they could learn better from physical interactions on intonation, body language and facial expressions.
When a mother explains an action to her baby, it helps boost the baby’s vocabulary by reading faces and emotions of the mother. Direct interaction with toddlers helps in enhancing their social skills, which is crucial for language development.
For children ages 2–5 years old, studies show that parents should keep screen time to maximum an hour per day of high quality programs.
How about for teens? Schools around the world are starting to incorporate the use of technology, as well as flipped and blended learning models in classrooms. As much as some parents try to limit technology usage among their child, technology has started to creep into all aspects of our lives. As a result, parents have to make a judgment based on their child’s behaviors. For example, a child using iPad to watch YouTube to better understand the solar system class may be commendable behavior. On the other hand, parents should keep in mind a balance between time spent on technology and on social interactions.
On Children’s Use of Technology: How Much Screen Time is Right?
Understanding Creative and Consumptive Behavior
Merely using computers for consuming content, e.g. videos and games, is what we refer to as consumptive behaviour. Instead, screens can be a good medium to cultivate creativity in a young child. Here are some tools that encourage creative behavior:
- MakeBeliefsComix: Children love cartoons and comics. Encourage children to to conceptualize what they have learnt using cartoons allow them to express their thoughts in a creative way.
- Tux Paint: It is a paint app for children. It has a very user-friendly interface and interesting sound effects that one can choose from for his painting. It works on both laptops and tablets.
The Inverse Relationship Between Bedtime and Screen Time
Research has shown that screen time before bed has a negative impact on the sleep cycle. It would be useful for parents to set rules on mobile phone use in the bedroom. Hence it is important for parents to explain to their child on the importance of getting sufficient sleep at night and with no disruptions as they need to get enough energy for school.
How should you limit your child’s screen time then? We have a few suggestions:
- Download and utilize screen time control. Check out Screen Time app.
- Implement a device contract. How? Check out our previous post.
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