Screen Time: Good or Bad?
Learn how to introduce and mediate your child’s screen time in our digitally fueled world.
In the digital era, especially since the coronavirus pandemic hit, the main communication tool has become technology –be it for socializing, school or work. Kids now have to learn very early on how to navigate technology. As a parent, how do you make sure your child is digitally eloquent without the famous, abundant side effects of excessive screen time? Read below to find out.
Why did screen time become the big bad wolf?
Screens have steadily become the easiest way to distract a child; more often than not, you’ll find children with tablets in front of them in restaurants or malls to keep them quiet and entertained. The keywords here being too much screen time watching unsuitable content; this is mainly why screens have such a bad rep. It’s been found that children aged 0 to 2 years consume more than 3 hours of screen time per day, this figure has doubled in the past two decades. Excessive screen time can curb children’s imagination, limit their curiosity and interfere with how they perceive and experience our three-dimensional world.
Now, recent studies are saying differently.
In the 1950s, with the rising popularity of television, parents were similarly worried their children would become TV addicts. Roald Dahl shed light on this in his 1964 novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:
Jenny Radesky, a developmental Behavioral Pediatrician and the author of the 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics digital media guidelines for young children, said that the most important thing is for parents to act as “media mentors” and teach their children how to “use media to create, connect, and learn”. The Oxford Internet Institute and Cardiff University also ran a study in 2017 on 20,000 parents of children aged 2 to 5 over 1 month that showed no correlation between limiting screen time for kids and their wellbeing.
So, how do I manage my child’s screen time?
Model healthy electronic use
Your little one will copy your dominant traits, so the next time you are tempted to go on a Netflix binge before bedtime, remember that you’re setting an example for your child. Model positive behavior such as controlled screen time, not keeping films running in the background at home all day…etc. and your child will follow suit.
Co-view & co-play
Instead of using screens as a pacifier, use them as a medium for learning, fun and bonding with your child. Observe what your children enjoy watching the most. For example, if they watch a cartoon that takes place in a forest, and go on a hike and turn the elements they liked from the content into an educational, real-life experience.
Establishing a routine
A day full of activities and fun will leave your child with little energy to sit in front of a screen. Make sure there’s an established routine to your child’s day and week including various pastimes that engage their senses and allow them to explore –this way screen time will become one element out of an entire day and not the primary activity.
Empower your child to become a decision-maker
In order to effectively mediate screen time use, allow your child to get involved in setting their own boundaries. This way, the decision will have come from them as opposed to being given passive instructions by mom or dad; this will also improve their self-confidence and decision-making abilities.