How to manage your child’s screen time

12:10 | 23/07/2019

In an age when we all have a tiny computer in our pockets, it's important that we learn to limit screen time in favor of actual human interaction and productivity. It's even more essential that we limit media consumption for children, especially since they're being exposed to things like phones and tablets at an increasingly younger age. Those devices are part of kids' lives earlier than ever, so it's important to keep tabs on how often they use them or watch TV. There are a number of reasons why you should do this as a parent, and, ironically, there's also a range of tech available to help with the task.

 

Manage Your Child's Screen Time
Manage Your Child's Screen Time

 

The case for limiting screen time

While it may seem like common sense, there's a lot of research that demonstrates why limiting screen time for children is a great idea. Yes, there are age-appropriate apps, games, movies, TV shows and more, and they're all rated so you know what's appropriate for a 12-year-old or for a preschooler. But even with ratings and appropriate content, you still need to actively manage screen time to ensure proper growth and development.

Studies show that too much screen time can have a lot of negative effects on your child. Those issues range from the mental (problems with school and paying attention) to the physical (trouble sleeping, eating disorders and obesity). There can also be developmental effects for children who spend too much time with electronic devices at a young age. A study from the Cleveland Clinic found that excessive screen time for a two-year-old led to lower developmental outcomes by three years old, and the same for a four-year-old by the time they turned five. Researchers found that things like developing necessary motor skills, a phase that's completed through physical activity, can't take place if a child is occupied (and stationary) by a screen.

Too much screen time at a young age can also hinder eye development. If a child spends too much time inside, it can lead to nearsightedness. "Exposure to natural daylight is critical to developing eyes," Ayesha Malik, a pediatric optometrist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, explains. "Kids need time playing outside for their health, but also for their eyes." Malik also notes that staring at a screen too much can lead to eye fatigue, dry/irritated eyes and trouble transitioning focus distances.

 

What are good limits?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no media use for kids under 18 months. From 18 to 24 months, only "high quality programming" should be the norm, and you should plan to watch it with your child. For two-to-five-year-olds (preschoolers), the AAP says you should limit screen time to an hour per day. The organization actually lowered this number in 2016, cutting the daily limit in half (from two hours to one). And again, the AAP recommends co-viewing.

Beyond five years, the AAP says the most important thing is to be consistent about limits. There's no set recommendation other than to be sure time spent on a phone or tablet, or watching TV, doesn't replace physical activity, sleep or "other behaviors essential to health."

There have been studies that suggest this one-hour figure is too restrictive. In 2017, researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute and Cardiff University measured the impact of screen time on caregiver attachment, emotional resilience, curiosity and overall positive emotion/response. They found that keeping screen time limited to one to two hours per day for two-to-five-year-olds "showed slightly higher levels of resilience, this was balanced by lower levels of positive affect." In other words, the team found that there was no direct link to a child's well-being for a strict one-to two-hour limit on daily screen time. In adolescents, researchers discovered "moderate screen-use above the recommended limits might actually be linked to slightly higher levels of children's wellbeing."

The key word there is "moderate." Even though the study finds that the AAP's limits could be a little too confining, the authors still point out moderation is key. They also explain that the so-called co-viewing that the AAP recommends is important for increased screen time to have a positive effect.

"If anything, our findings suggest the broader family context, how parents set rules about digital screen time, and if they're actively engaged in exploring the digital world together, are more important than the raw screen time," Andrew Przyzbylski, the study's lead author and an associate professor and director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute, explains.

 

Source from Engadget: https://bitly.vn/7hx2

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