What is screen time? Screen time is the time spent in front of a display screen while physically being inactive. Screen time guidelines must be followed by a child’s proper growth and development.
According to the World Health Organization, the following are screen time recommendations for children of different ages:
|AGE||RECOMMENDED SCREEN TIME|
|Less than 1 year||None|
|2 years||Not more than 1 hour a day|
|3 to 4 years||1 hour a day|
The American Academy of Pediatrics released the following screen time guidelines:
|Less than 1 year||Only for video chatting|
|1 to 2 years||Only for educational programming|
|2 to 5 years||1 hour per weekday and 3 hours on the weekend|
The recommended screen time for kids as stated by Medline Plus is:
|Below 2 years||None|
|Above 2 years||1 to 2 hours a day|
How does prolonged exposure affect kids’ health?
Now that we know how much screen time is appropriate for kids, we should also look into why limiting it is important. How screen time affects kids’ health?
- Excessive screen time would lead to laziness and the child will become unfit. Lack of physical activity would make their bones weak and even simple activities would make them feel lethargic.
- Overexposure to screens affects the eyesight badly.
- More screen time restricts social bonding, putting at risk the child’s personal and emotional development.
- It can also lead to irregular sleep schedules, affecting brain activity.
- Children can be exposed to violence, cyberbullies, and predators hence affecting their mental health.
- It can also cause obesity due to less activity. Moreover, most of the ads promote junk food which lead to unnecessary weight gain.
- It may lead to behavioural problems including attention, social and emotional problems.
- It can affect their education as well due to less time allocated for studying.
How to limit screen time?
There is no doubt that less screen time means a better body for kids and to ensure that some steps must be taken.
For children under the age of five, some measures that could be taken are:
1. Setting a time limit on gadgets:
The apps would not work after the time has been exceeded, forcing the children for some physical play and productive activities.
2. Show don’t tell:
You should set an example for your children by limiting your use of electronic gadgets too. Children follow what they see so you should indulge in some productive activities with them.
3. Reward system:
Make screen time a reward for kids completing some beneficial tasks as a motivation to be productive. For example:
4. Family Time:
It is essential for a child’s personal development to spend time in an environment that is supportive and affectionate. You should encourage your child to take part in sports, hobbies, and creative activities by participating yourself alongside.
5. Parental Controls:
Using parental controls is a great way to monitor and limit your child’s activities on the web without having to manually administer their time spent online.
How can screen time of older children be limited?
The common age to start school is five to six years old and it becomes hard to monitor your child’s screen time. So, how can their screen time be limited?
1. Educate Them:
Talk to your children about the dangers of social media and excessive exposure to screens and help them understand the importance of the physical activity. When you will communicate with them and be direct, they would realize the cons and limit their screen time themselves.
2. Encourage Extracurricular Activities:
We have all heard “all work and no play makes jack a dull boy.” It is true indeed. Encourage your children to take part in different school clubs and explore their hobbies. Not only will it help in their growth but it will also restrict their time on the screen.
3. Put a Ban:
Another initiative that you can take is to forbid using mobile or watching TV while eating, doing homework, and after a set amount of time. This will help in limiting their screen time greatly.
4. Encourage Good Use:
Restricting your child’s use of digital devices is hard but you can encourage them to use it for their benefit. You can promote its use for homework help, learning a new skill, a new language or watching educational videos, etc.
They can also listen to useful podcasts and Ted Talks. This will build up their personality while ensuring they are putting their time on screen to good use.
5. Set a Screen-Free Zone:
You can also make your child’s room a place with no TV and computer. A different room can be assigned for a computer such as a study room. TV can be watched in the lounge under your own supervision.
Children should be provided with their personal devices once they are mature enough to counter the risks and use them efficiently.
6. Get Professional Help:
If you are unable to follow or make a systematic approach, you can consult a pediatrician or family physician for a plan exclusively based on your child’s age, behavior, and activities.
Should screen time be cut off completely?
Screen time is not all bad and having everything at the touch of your finger is quite remarkable. However, how one puts it into use defines its consequences. Just like anything else, screen use also has its pros and cons. Some of the pros are:
- Educational research has been made easy
- You can easily socialize with friends and family
- Learning skills online
- Remote Jobs and internships
In conclusion, positive screen use is possible through proper guidance and education. In today’s world, screen use has become a staple and demands experience in this field. The responsibility comes upon us to make its use worthwhile and beneficial both for us and our children.
Following the screen time guidelines recommended by professionals will be a huge step towards healthy screen use.