Screen time will always be a topic of debate and that’s because different people have different perspectives on what’s healthy and what’s not. It’s a digital age and that means screens are virtually everywhere and also used for educational and social development. How then do you control a child’s screen time? And when do you draw the line? Here’s a guide that can help.
The time kids spend watching TV, Computers, Gaming consoles, Tablets and Smartphones can be beneficial if these two factors are in place;
1. The content they watch is useful, and quality.
2. They enjoy time off to interact with the people around them, get enough sleep, and Involve in other physical and mental activities.
Guide for a healthy approach to screen time
Here is a checklist to ensure your child is using screens in a balanced and healthy way.
Ask the following questions. Is my child;
- getting enough sleep and rest?
- physically active?
- concentrating academically?
- interactive and social with family and friends, online and offline?
- exploring other hobbies and interests?
- having fun and learning while using screens?
- engaging with quality content online?
If your answer was mostly yes, then your child is using screens in a healthy way.
Excess screen time can cause one, or more of the following:
- Irregular sleep schedules and shorter duration of sleep
- Behavioral problems
- Loss of social skills
- Less time for play
As there is no one-size-fits-all approach to what’s acceptable? Here are a few things you can do to ensure quality screen time.
- Preview the cartoons, programs, games, and apps before giving kids access.
- Turn on Parental Control where necessary and applicable.
- Find interactive and engaging options especially on mobile, rather than those that just require little effort or participation like swiping or staring at the screen.
- Ensure your child is close by so you can check on the activities he or she is engaging with from time to time.
- Eliminate advertising on apps
Screen time and older children.
It is a little more tricky when dealing with older children; especially those old enough to own their own gadgets. Here are free tips that can serve as a guide to balance their freedom and independent usage while still ensuring limits and boundaries are observed.
- Enforce unplugged, unstructured playtime.
- Observe screen-free zones or times, such as during mealtime or at family time.
- Don’t allow the use of screens during homework except if needed to do the homework.
- Set daily screen time limits such as no screens or devices one hour before bedtime or early in the morning.
- Enforce that your children to charge their devices outside of their bedrooms at night.
- Be a good example. Limit your own screen time.