Screentime for children is often a conflicting topic with a variety of different views on what’s considered normal. With the increase in online media and the use of technology, it’s becoming more and more of a battle to keep younger kids away from it.
As a parent it’s important to set rules and boundaries on your Child’s screen time and the media they are viewing. The key is to be consistent and clear with your expectations.
Recommended Screen Time
Below you will see the recommended screen time for each age category.
Under 18 Months
As they are still in a very vulnerable way at this age, all screen media should be completely avoided. Exceptions to this are video-chatting.
18-24 Months Old
This is when it becomes a parent/carers choice, if you’re ready to introduce screen viewing then it should be only the highest-quality programming. It’s also important to watch this with them in order to help them understand what they’re viewing.
2-5 Years Old
The time spent viewing high-quality programmes only should be limited to an hour per day. As your child is in their prime learning stage you need to help them understand what they’re watching and then apply it to everyday life.
Children Aged 6 Years and older
This is the stage it’s important to start applying parental control and limits to the types of social media they use and the time spent. Otherwise it can lead to a range of negative effects which we need to avoid.
The Negative Effects of Too Much Screen Time
Whether it’s from too much TV or too long on smart phones and video games, the effects it can have can be extremely harmful to a child’s health.
Primary school-aged children who are spending longer than 2 hours a day watching TV or playing on a smartphone or computer are more likely to have attention, social or emotional problems.
Young children who have grown up with a television in their bedroom do worse on academic tests.
Children and adolescents who have too much screen time can often be at risk of becoming overweight.
Too much screen time and lack of restrictions can lead to children being exposed to violent music, TV shows, movies and video games. They then can become desensitised to it and eventually even mimic it and use violence in everyday life.
Although most of us are guilty of watching some TV to wind down before bed, the light emitted from screens can interfere with the sleep cycle in the brain. This can then lead to insomnia.
Mobile Device & Screen Time rules
Setting screen time rules for your kids is only going to be at its most effective if the whole family takes part. Meaning you can’t tell your child to turn off his video games if you’re sat in front of the TV. Therefore start with implementing the below household rules:
- No mobile phones or TV during the family meal
- Have nights dedicated to family bonding and ban technology
- No screen time in the car
- No screens allowed in the bedroom
You’ll be surprised what benefits arise from having a screen free night with the family. Not only is it good for everyone’s mental and psychical health but it will do wonders for your family’s relationships.
Should Children Have Cell Phones?
There are a variety of pros and cons to children having mobile phones. However after assessing the harms of screen time it’s important that if you allow your child to have one that you should control their access to the internet, limit their screen time and allow for safety and security reasons only.
- You can stay in touch with them almost all the time
- In case of emergency you can contact them
- Teaching your child responsibility
- Broader internet access
- The risk of child grooming
- Phones can become a huge distraction
Deciding whether to give your kid a mobile phone is completely subjective and the choice of the parent. If you do decide to then the following should be considered:
- Pre-paid plan – having limits on texts and minutes will prevent any extra costs
- Strict limits – some phones allow you to limit internet access and restrict certain calls and texts
- GPS tracker app – require your child to share their location so you always know where they are
- Limited use – only allow your child to use it for emergencies or when their out of the house on their own
- Discuss mobile issues – make sure your child is aware of cyberbullying, school rules for phones and the dangers of being distracted by it
Here at Stepping Stones we provide a safe and fun environment for your children where they can make new friends, learn new things and play games. This gives them a great opportunity to make face to face relationships with children their own age and grow, without the need of screens.