Screen time is perhaps one of the most asked questions during recent presentations. How much time is appropriate for my child of a certain age?
The problem is that it’s not that cut and dried. Because each child is different, and each household is different. Each culture is different. But the problem is that many social media educators failed to put a line in the sand that will help parents, so I’m gonna have a crack at it.
Firstly let’s be clear what screen time encompasses. Common Sense Media outlines with brilliant simplicity, and it includes TV, phones, iPads, computers and gaming. That’s already more than most people think about…And this is broken down into:
- Passive consumption: watching TV, reading, and listening to music
- Interactive consumption: playing games and browsing the Internet
- Communication: video-chatting and using social media
- Content creation: using devices to make digital art or music
So let’s have a look at the positives and negatives of screen time – is your child watching age-appropriate content within that screen time?
- How many apps, games, websites, TV shows, are out of your child’s age restriction?
- Have they been given time limits, or set times in the day, and how do you monitor this?
- How much do you create outdoor or creative activity to be set against the screen time?
- Is your screen time in a place what are your children can be seen by you?
- Is the device being used for creative purposes or educational purposes, and if so what ratio or proportion of time is put to this?
- Is the device or screen adding value by and large and providing a positive impact on your child from educational emotional or behavioral side and finally is the next aspect of social consciousness is the technology being used to make a difference.
- Often under the circumstances, screen time is not a bad and therefore a child could potentially have access to more screen time.
On the flipside what happens when the screen time that your child is having bypasses the age limit because after all there are good reasons that the age limit has been established by professionals. You may not agree to the age limit, and that is your choice, but how much have you turned a blind eye to perhaps reconsider the broad spectrum of content that your children have access to.
- Is your child roaming “free range” on the Internet with no time limits?
- This can create overstimulation which leads to less sleep, less focus and less attention, all scientifically proven to be a consequence of overstimulation from screen time?
- Is your child in his bedroom with the door closed. Which would make it harder to monitor and discuss openly with them.
- Of course it’s at your discretion at what age you wish this to be allowed – and every parent is different and so is every child – but establishing your rules and cut-off points is instrumental to showing your child more clarity.
- Do you notice that your child is developing a mind-numbing personality – chilling out completely for too long if given too much freedom online?
- And does that ever change their behavior to a more negative or aggressive personality?
- Final question ultimately is whether the technology is doing more harm than good from an energy, sleep or behavioral point of view? Only you will know!