Good & Bad Screen Time for Kids: What is it, and how can it affect your child?


Category: Uncategorized

Created At: 2024-05-30

Good & Bad Screen Time for Kids: What is it and how can it affect your child?

Screens have become an integral part of our lives; they help us surf the digital world and allow us to connect with the rest of the world. Starting from our phones, televisions, or other devices at home and ending at every corner of any street, where we can find advertising spots and other types of screens. Screens are everywhere, and our children are growing up immersed in this technology that is filled with stimuli. While screen time can offer educational and recreational benefits, it also comes with potential drawbacks. Understanding the difference between good and bad screen time, its impact on children, and how to manage their screen usage is crucial for their development and well-being.

What is Good Screen Time?

Good screen time refers to the use of digital devices in ways that promote learning, creativity, and positive social interactions. This type of screen time is characterised by:

  1. Educational Content:

Apps, games, and videos designed to teach skills such as reading, math, science, and critical thinking can be highly beneficial. Platforms like Khan Academy, educational YouTube channels, and interactive e-books can enhance a child's knowledge and curiosity.

2. Creative Activities:

Digital tools that encourage creativity, such as drawing apps, children’s story sites, music composition programs, and coding games, can help children develop their artistic and technical skills. Applications like Scratch for coding or Procreate for drawing provide constructive and engaging ways for children to express themselves.

3. Positive Social Interaction:

Video calls with family members, collaborative online games with friends, and virtual classrooms can help children build and maintain social connections. Apps that foster collaboration and communication in a safe environment can enhance social skills and emotional intelligence.

4. Moderate, Supervised Use:

Good screentime is usually characterised by moderation and supervision. Parents or guardians play an active role in selecting appropriate content, setting time limits, and engaging with their children about what they are learning or creating.

What is Bad Screentime?

Bad screen time, on the other hand, involves digital activities that are passive, unproductive, or potentially harmful. This includes:

1. Excessive Use:

Spending too much time on screens, even on educational content, can be detrimental. Overuse can lead to physical issues such as eye strain, poor posture, and reduced physical activity, contributing to health problems like obesity.

2. Inappropriate Content:

Exposure to violent, explicit, or age-inappropriate material can have negative effects on a child's mental and emotional development. This includes access to certain social media platforms, online games with mature content, and unfiltered web browsing.

3. Passive Consumption:

Watching TV shows, YouTube videos, or playing simple games that do not require active engagement or critical thinking can be considered bad screen time. This type of activity can be mind-numbing and does not contribute to a child’s cognitive or emotional growth.

4. Unsupervised Use:

Allowing children to use screens without supervision or guidance can lead to exposure to harmful content, cyberbullying, or online predators. Lack of parental involvement can also mean missed opportunities to discuss and contextualise what the child is experiencing online.

Why long screentime periods are Bad for Kids?

While screens themselves are not inherently bad, excessive or inappropriate, screentime can lead to several negative consequences for children:

1. Physical Health Issues:

Prolonged screen use is linked to sedentary behaviour, which can result in obesity and related health problems. Children who spend excessive time on screens are also at risk of developing poor posture, repetitive strain injuries, and sleep disturbances due to blue light exposure.

2. Mental and Emotional Impact:

High levels of screen time, especially when associated with social media, can lead to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. The comparison culture fostered by social media platforms can affect a child's self-worth and mental health.

3. Cognitive Development:

Over-reliance on screens for entertainment can impede cognitive development. Without the constant stimulation that screens provide, children may become less adept at problem-solving, critical thinking, and maintaining attention.

4. Social Skills:

Excessive screen time can lead to social isolation, as children may spend less time engaging in face-to-face interactions. This can hinder the development of important social skills, such as empathy, communication, and conflict resolution.

How Much Screentime for is good for Kids?

Determining the appropriate amount of screentime can be challenging, but guidelines from health organisations provide a helpful starting point:

1. Infants (0-2 years):

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) recommends no screen time for children under 18 months, except for video chatting. For children aged 18-24 months, limited screen time with high-quality content and parental involvement is advised

2. Toddlers (2-5 years):

The RCPCH suggests that children aged 2 to 5 should have no more than one hour of screen time per day. This screen time should consist of high-quality educational content, with parents actively participating in the viewing experience.

3. Children (6 years and older):

The RCPCH recommends consistent limits on screen time for children aged 6 and older, ensuring it does not interfere with sleep, physical activity, and other healthy behaviours. A general guideline is to aim for no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time per day.

How to Reduce Screentime for Kids?

Reducing screentime and promoting healthier habits involves several strategies:

1. Set Clear Boundaries:

Establish rules for when and where screens can be used. For example, no screens during meals, in bedrooms, or during family time. Consistency is key to helping children understand and adhere to these boundaries.

2. Encourage Alternative Activities:

We recommend you provide children with engaging alternatives to screen time. You can encourage outdoor play, sports, reading, arts and crafts, and other hobbies that do not involve screens. Creating a balanced routine with a variety of activities can reduce the reliance on digital entertainment.

3. Be a Role Model:

Children often emulate their parents' behaviour. Demonstrating healthy screen habits yourself, such as limiting your own screen time and engaging in non-screen activities, can set a positive example for your children to follow

4. Create Screen-Free Zones:

Designate certain areas of the home as screen-free zones, such as the dining room or bedrooms. This can help reduce the temptation to use screens and promote other forms of interaction and relaxation.

5. Use Technology Wisely:

Leverage parental control features and apps to monitor and limit your child’s screen time. Many devices and apps offer built-in tools to set time limits and block inappropriate content. 

6. Engage in Shared Screen Time:

When children use screens, make it a shared activity. Watching educational shows together, playing interactive games, or exploring educational websites can make screen time more beneficial and foster a sense of connection.

Striking a Balance for Healthy Development

Screen time is an inevitable part of modern childhood, and when used wisely, it can offer significant benefits. However, it is crucial for parents to distinguish between good and bad screen time and to manage their children's screen usage effectively. By setting clear boundaries, encouraging alternative activities, and being a positive role model, parents can help their children develop a healthy relationship with screens. Balancing screen time with other activities is key to ensuring that children grow up physically healthy, mentally sharp, and socially adept.

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