This is a debate that can vary between families. And, recently, the American Academy of Paediatrics has made a change to its recommendations of ‘screen time’ usage among children. This is because, as we know, devices are all around us, and it’s hard to get kids off them, especially when adults all around them are using them.
So, should young children be using electronics and media at all?
Here are some things to consider about children using electronics and media, and how much time is too much ‘screen time’ or not enough ‘unplugged time.’
Some media programs can be educational for young children, but off-screen time is important for toddlers
As it turns out, while there can be merits to watching qualified educational programming for young children, it doesn’t happen as well as you may think it does. It has been reported that young children really need real-life ‘face time’ with the grown ups around them. It helps their brain development. Plus, think about it: their whole world is in 3D, they are still learning to understand what 2D means. So expecting them to learn in 2D is just not the same.
If you really want to use screen time, the report linked to above recommends being there with your child while learning with media programming. Then, to go over it with them again, so they are still getting face-to-face time with parents.
Electronics and media devices can encourage unhealthy behaviours, so use with care
It’s hard to avoid letting children watch TV or use gadgets like e-readers. However, moderation seems to be key when researching this topic. Parents should be aware that electronic media can affect a child’s development, their physical activity, their sleep, their weight gain, their eyesight and a host of other important behaviours for child health.
Don’t be afraid to be the parent that limits screen time. It might make you unpopular around the house, and maybe among other parents, but it may be worth it in the long run. Even the National Post has reported on the negative effects of kids using electronics and media, in the way it limits social skills, and more. And, TechAdvisor has produced a significant guideline, complete with research and advice, on the subject of whether it’s health or unhealthy for kids to have too much screen time.
But can you put a stop to it altogether? Likely not in today’s modern age. Just remember that TVs and iPads are no replacement for babysitting or caring for your child. And, according to one source we linked to above, there are apps and ways you can limit screen time automatically. This can help keep you on track as a parent as well.
Plus, use your imagination! Unstructured play was listed in one of our source above as a healthy thing for kids. Let them run around, create, as questions, tell stories and do what kids do best – play!