How much screen time is appropriate for children?
Guest blogger Felicity Cook from Family Chiropractic Centre Charlestown explains what’s recommended and why.
Screentime! Its a topic that challenges most parents and care providers. Often there are conflicting opinions about it and we get confused as to what is actually best for our children. So really how much screen time should your child have and how can you best juggle it so they can develop healthy screen time habits?
Screen time is the time spent with TV, DVDs, computer screens, gaming devices as well as hand held devices such as phones, tablets and iPods. And when it is listed out like that we can see how easy it is to be overexposed. The challenging part is that sometimes it is entertaining and sometimes it is educational too.
We are so lucky to have so much information at our fingertips and so many resources at our disposal (like The Mummy Project for instance) that can be both entertaining and educational. The downside comes when there is over use or over exposure. We all know how easy it can be to leave our child in front of the iPad especially when they’re happy there. But too much screen time has been linked with sleep disruption, anxiety, depression, obesity and attention concerns. Scary isn’t it? Because of this there are age appropriate guidelines that help us navigate when and for how long we should expose our child to screen based activities each day.
Following the current screen time guidelines is beneficial for so many areas of growth and development. The most recent guidelines from the American Academy of Paediatrics recommend:
- Under 2 years of age discourage screen time altogether
- Over 2 years of age limit screen time to approximately 1 hour per day
- Children 5 and above no more than 2 hours per day
The easiest way to limit screen time is to make it the exception, not the rule. Saving it for the times when you really a distraction, have jobs to do or if someone needs down time is the best way to go. In addition to this if you can avoid it during meal times, as back ground or in the bedroom especially just before bed time even better!
Screen time can be educational and technology is definitely going to be a part of the school experience so it is beneficial for kids to be familiar with it. What is watched and how it is watched is important. Be choosy about what your kids get to interact with. Educational value is definitely a priority. Age appropriateness is a must especially with websites and gaming. And in addition to this if your child is not watching- switch it off. Background noise from the TV interferes with children’s ability to concentrate on things that are better for their development, like creative or physical play.
Finally kids follow your lead. So lead by example when it comes to screen time and limit your time at the screen. Be mindful that time at the computer, on Facebook, watching your favourite TV show (or just the news) all adds up. Allow yourself no more than 2 hours per day and make sure you get plenty of play time too.
Knowing all this now- can you remember the last time you were completely screen free? When was the last time you switched for a few hours or even a day? If its hard to remember then today is the day to give it a go.