It’s just a fact of life that just about everything our kids do, be it at school or at home, is done on either a TV, computer, tablet, smartphone, and lately even smart watches. All of the aforementioned electronics share a common feature: a screen. Kids these days therefore spend the majority of their time looking at some kind of a screen. So, how much screen time is still ideal?
That phrase alone could easily describe how modern kids spend most of their days. Of course there is no single answer.
The fact is that modern technology is now more available than it’s ever been. Seeing that kids have immediate access to this technology, which adults could only dream of when they young, is in many ways positive; such as learning news skills or picking up new ideas and enhancing creativity.
There are, however, two sides to the story. Hours and hours of screentime is not good and we are not only talking about poor eyesight. Behavioural problems, obesity, a lack of communication, replicating negative behaviour, and even an inability to function in a society are all increasingly common problems.
All about the balance
Not all screen time is bad. In fact there are four different types of screen time:
- Recreational: playing games or watching videos just for fun
- Educational: doing homework online
- Interactive: playing video games, drawing pictures
- Non-interactive: watching TV or YouTube videos
Parents need to know the balance between healthy and useful screen time and its overuse. That’s the easier part. The hard part is being able to explain and reason with their kids why.
According to this australian parenting website, the optimum screen time depends on the age group in which your kids belong.
For kids under 18 months, no screen time is recommended.
For those aged between eighteen months to two years experts say to watch high quality educational programs and parents should be there to explain to their children what they are watching.
Two to five year olds shouldn’t watch more than an hour of screen time per day and parents should watch it along with them.
For six year olds and older kids, parents should consistently set limits on spending time on electronic devices.
As with everything, the key is to find the right balance and to be able to explain this to your children in an understandable, interesting and age-appropriate way.