Screen time and children – How much is too much?
Screen time and children – How much is too much?
In this digital age, most of us are addicted to the screen to some degree, here is how you can regulate your screen time and that of your children.
Screen time of your children is a matter of concern? Here’s how you can harness technology and use it to your advantage…
Technology being all pervasive now, screen time has become essential for people of all ages. But, for many people, especially parents, screen time of their children is a matter of concern and need to seriously regulate it.
Many parents struggle to set guidelines for their children as they themselves struggle to stay away from their screens.
Hence, to regulate screen time at home, it is highly essential to have an organised and regulated living atmosphere for everyone at home, both children as well as adults.
If you have a basic idea of what is good and what is harmful and seek to live a life of purpose and balance, driven by the principle of productive usage of time, then it becomes easy to implement this principle in all aspects of life.
Internet is a powerful and useful tool and productive use of the Internet is necessary for people of all ages to stay relevant as well as for the balanced growth of each individual.
With or without the Internet, technology now offers solutions to almost all problems and caters to different needs of the society as well as the individual. It is extremely important to harness this power and learn to use this great facility to our advantage.
This is the reason why, rather than fighting to keep the children away from screen, it is important to teach both the children and the young adults as well as those who are newly exposed to the screen, the right and beneficial uses of the electronic devices.
Without the awareness of the harmful effects of the screen and its lingering dangers, users, irrespective of their age, fall prey to the many perils lurking around virtually.
So, here is a quick guide to why, what, how and how much of the screen time…
But, before that let’s look at the problems with the screens:
According to medical and psychological experts, over exposure to screens leads to serious heath and behavioural issues, particularly hampering the development of the young ones.
Overuse of the devices leads to screen addiction and promotes sedentary lifestyle, which results in:
- Obesity and related health issues, such as diabetes and hypertension.
- Inadequate rest and insufficient sleep.
- Behavioural problems and poor interpersonal skills.
- Lack of interest in social and real life issues.
- Hampered language and skill development.
- Violence and insensitivity.
- Lack of focus or attention
- Insufficient time for learning and personal growth.
So, what is a screen time?
Screen time includes use of devices such as phone, tablet, TV and video game. It includes screen usage for all purposes including educational, developmental, social and entertainment.
According to a recent report by Pew Research Centre, around 70 per cent parents across the world are concerned about their children’s screen time and struggle to regulate their use of devices.
To address this concern, experts have made certain age-wise recommendations:
Under the age two
For children under the age of two years, paediatric experts recommend very limited screen time.
Children from the age of 18 to 24 months should be allowed to consume media only under direct watch of an adult. It is highly important to talk to children about what they’re viewing right from this age.
Children at this age should never be allowed to use devices on their own, even for playing games.
From two to five
The best way to have some control over how children are using their devices is for parents to introduce high-quality content for them. This will help set the rules of media engagement at home.
Experts suggest that children at this age should not get a screen time of more than one hour spread across different time of the day and should cover all purposes.
The content selected should be age appropriate, non-violent, interactive, educational and social.
Experts recommend that even after selecting the media, adults should keep a constant eye on children while using the Internet to make sure there are no diversions.
From five to eight
For the children aged between five and eight years, it’s important that parents and caregivers continue to guide them in what to consume and what not, in terms of the digital content.
Though, a fixed duration of consumption cannot be ascertained for this age group, it is crucial to make sure their screen time is not affecting their physical activities, particularly their game time as well as their other developmental activities such as reading, recreation, studies, social life as well as sleep.
Also, at this age parents and adults should increase their monitoring of the media children are engaged with, particularly to ensure they are not accessing harmful content.
Nine years and above
As children enter the pre-teen and teenage, parents and elders should have more conversations and discussions about the screen time and digital consumption. But, more importantly elders should practically demonstrate model screen behaviour and follow the rules they have implemented at home.
The discussions should cover topics such as responsible usage, no-go zones, awareness regarding pornography, data theft, not sharing personal details on the Internet as well as avoiding contact with strangers etc.
Some of the basic rules around screen usage could be, using the device from a common space at home, no usage of devices during meal time, not using the screens at least an hour before sleep time, not allowing children to sleep with the devices in their room etc.
To have organised screen behaviour, it is important to have a common family watch time at least a couple of days per week. Choose a documentary of common interest or any informative video or may be even a game/sport for the family time.
This could be an important family bonding time, especially for those families that have very little time for each other during weekdays. This time should be non-negotiable for all members of the family.
Despite all your monitoring and control, at some point your child will be exposed to inappropriate content. Constantly have a discussion with your children about such awkward situations and the kind of behaviour expected during these times.
Encourage your children to take responsibility and think critically about what they access on their screens.
No matter how smart or mature your child might be, children are bound to make mistakes using the Internet. Do not impose bans, rather discuss with your child and help them take responsibility and learn from their mistakes. Encourage them to choose wisely, this will help them take right decisions in the longer run.