The amount of time kids spend engaged with technology is a major issue for most parents right now and even the World Health Organisation (WHO) is urging parents to say no to screen time occasionally. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also started getting very vocal about the problem, saying that kids between the ages of two and five don’t need screen time at all. But screens are a pervasive part of the world we live in, so it can be a massive challenge to keep tabs on just how much time your kid spends watching TV and using apps. Let’s look at why the world is ranting about the topic.
Why should parents say no to screen time?
The WHO and AAP want to encourage physical activity in kids, and they also want to see healthy interactions between kids and their caregivers. Plus there’s the aspect of sleep, which gets severely interrupted by screens. Here’s a look at the guidelines as set out by these organisations, which explains when screen time should not be allowed.
When should I limit tech?
On your way to school
The kid-friendly apps on your phone and those mini TV screens are great for long car trips, but not for short trips, like the daily school run. This is one of the best times to talk and interact with your kid and share thoughts and ideas. Games, like I Spy, are great for morning car trips because it challenges your child’s visual skills and provides on-board entertainment.
At the grocery store
Your kid might not be interested to see you comparing prices of washing detergent, but watching a video or playing a game on your phone causes your kid to miss out on valuable learning opportunities. There’s a plethora of colours, shapes, items to count, textures to feel and sounds to hear.
When bedtime comes
You have a great opportunity to connect with your kiddo at bedtime. This should be a loving routine, not a disconnected, cold and unresponsive hour. It has been shown that kids who fall asleep watching a screen take longer to fall asleep and don’t have restful sleep. And kids really need deep, restful sleep for growth and development.
While it’s virtually impossible to completely avoid the digital world that screens provide, we should all think about the times of the day when screens cause the most missed opportunities and focus on replacing those virtual experience with real ones instead.