Screen time has increased across the world as families spend more time at home. Inevitably, children become restless and caregivers may turn to screen time as a temporary solution. Many parents have expressed concerns over this increase in screen time, but does it actually have a negative impact on your child’s development? Short answer: it depends on several factors.
How Screen Time Helps Children Learn
Instead of fearing the consequences of too much screen time, use it for educational purposes where your child has the opportunity to grow and learn. It is recommended that children aged between 2-5 (nursery to kindergarten) get no longer than 1 hour of screen time a day. So it is more about using the 1 hour wisely. Here is some examples of beneficial screen activities for your child:
- Live online lessons: If your school is provides live online lessons during school closures, this should be top of your list for purposeful screen time. It’s crucial for your child to be able to see their teachers and classmates during this time of extended social distancing.
- Educational videos: Some schools will provide eLearning videos with educational content that you can view in your own time. These videos usually include storytelling, singing, interactive activities, and more. Check out Tutor Time’s free eLearning videos here!
- Educational apps. Certain apps are great for learning, such as those which encourage the child to interact and perform actions. Avoid apps that do not encourage any form of interaction.
Implement Screen Time Effectively
- 1-2 hours of distraction-free screen time: 1-2 hours of screen time for children over 2 is deemed appropriate by most experts. Create a suitable learning environment for your child and limit any distractions.
- Schedule activity breaks: Try to space out your child’s screen time. If they have a school lesson, schedule a non-screen activity afterwards.
- Stick to a routine: Creating a daily routine allows your child to transition better between screen and non-screen activities. It’ll potentially save you from meltdowns and conflict.
Potential Negative Side Effects of Increased Screen Time
Excessive screen time can have a long term effect on young children, especially if it is used as a replacement for other activities.
- Poor sleep quality: Screen time, specifically blue light, at night can affect a child’s circadian rhythm, which might make it hard for them to fall asleep.
- Physical development issues: Screen time may be used as a substitute for physical activity, which can lead to delays in fine and gross motor development.
- Nutrition: Excessive screen time is often associated with other unhealthy habits, such as snacking.
- Lack of social skills: Children who spend excessive amounts of time in front of a screen tend to have communication issues due to lack of practice and exposure.