Today’s children are immersed in a digital age. Three year olds are mastering iPads and 5 year olds are teaching their grandparents a thing or two when it comes to online technology. However, as parents, we are often bombarded with all the negatives of giving our kids too much screen time. And the truth is, there are a lot of negatives including distracted children, decreased attention spans, taking time away from other healthy activities, obsessions with video games – the list goes on and on.
But is screen time, always bad?
In short, no. Here are a few of the benefits:
Practice makes perfect. One benefit is that kids are able to practice with technology that they’ll need later in life. Technology will be an important part of school and in the long-term, the workplace. Gaining aptitude and comfort now can benefit one in the future.
It can help make learning fun. Another benefit is that some apps and programs help children to learn in an interactive, fun and interesting way. Apps such as ABC mouse or PBS Programming help kids to see, hear and experience concepts that they might already be exposed to in school.
Some devices can encourage communication. Although the smartphone does not replace face to face interaction, it is a handy communication tool. Skyping or facetiming with friends and family members is a wonderful use of this technology and can help strengthen bonds with those who do not live close by.
Some programs get kids moving. Some games promote physical health. For example, the game Dance Dance Revolution has kids exercising to music. Moving around is always a good thing!
Access to media can help children become more resourceful. When a child asks what something is whether it be a word or concept, you can encourage them to research and find out. Further, you can discuss whether particular sources are credible.
Overall, when it comes to screen time, it’s everything in moderation. To make sure your family isn’t getting too much when it comes to media, designate media-free times together, such as family dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as the family room.
There are also guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics which will help your family get a better grip on screen time at home:
Children < 18 months – Avoid use of screen media.
Children 18 – 24 months – Parents who choose to introduce digital media should choose high quality educational programming for their children.
Children 2 – 5 years – Limit to one hour per day. Again, focus on choosing high quality and educational apps or programs.
Over 6 years – Recommend to place time limits on media. Media should never replace other types of activity such as physical activity, sleep, or family time.
How much screen time do you allow your children? Add a comment below…