Today’s way of living can be compared with living in a box. Most of the time, people stare at their screens, somehow trapped in a digital world.
An important term in today’s world is screen time. Screen time is the time spent on digital devices. It is almost always a sedentary activity and therefore too much screen time can harm adults’ and kids’ physical and mental health.
In the following paragraphs, we’ll go over the recommended screen time by age, and discuss how to limit your children’s screen time.
Understanding Screen Time
We all stare at the screens time every day. The only difference is the time we spend on tech and the content we watch. There are types of screen time, such as:
- Passive consumption which includes watching TV, reading, listening to music, and such;
- Interactive consumption which includes playing video games and searching on the Internet;
- Communication and interaction which include social media activities;
- Content creation which means creating content yourself;
Active Screen Time vs Passive Screen Time
Active screen time refers to the direct and active interaction between people and the content they’re looking at on their screens. This includes:
- Playing video games;
- Following tutorials and educative videos;
- Creating content;
- Social media;
On the other hand, passive screen time refers to the time we spend passively staring at our TV, watching a YouTube video, or listening to music.
But, we parents, need to control our and our little one’s screen time and set family rules because excessive screen time can harm our health.
But, by spending less time on technology, and by hand-picking good content, we can limit the risk of harming our health because of screen time.
Recommended Screen Time by Age Group
Parents usually question how much screen time is enough. We’ll give you the answer in the following paragraphs!
Infants and Toddlers (0-2 years old)
You must admit that it is fun to see a toddler with a smartphone or joystick in his/her little hands. But according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (shortly, AACAP), toddlers shouldn’t use tech unless it is for video chatting with relatives.
Exposure to too much screen time can hinder toddlers’ mental growth, cause vision problems, increase the chance of obesity, and much more.
Parents need to focus on the alternatives to screen time, such as playing indoor and outdoor games and stimulating walking and speaking.
Preschoolers (3-5 years old)
AACAP states that parents must limit screen time for preschoolers to one hour a day and up to 3 hours on weekends. And make sure that your preschoolers watch more educational content.
The educational benefits of screen time for preschoolers can support kids learning and developing of problem-solving, creative, and communicative skills.
But, since parents can’t always look after children because of work, you can use parental control software to make sure that your child isn’t exceeding the set boundaries.
School-aged Children (6-12 years old)
In this period kids are neither small nor mature, and OSF Healthcare says that screen time must be limited to two hours a day, and mostly for educational purposes.
It is important to note that children at this age grow, so it is crucial to stimulate activities like sports. Also, they need to stay focused because of school, and screen time often deconcentrates children
Teenagers (13-18 years old)
Teens think that they know everything, but they simply can’t accept that the recommended recreational screen time for this period is only two hours for tech usage.
It is difficult to limit teenagers’ screen time because of their constant usage of social media. And we all know how easily teens can get addicted to social media.
Parents must have an open conversation with their teens, explain the risks of excessive screen time, and motivate their teens to set healthy screen time habits and engage more in outdoor activities.
The Risks of Excessive Screen Time
Kids must respect the screen time boundaries because of the risks of excessive screen time, which we’ll quickly go over.
- Sleep disorders and insomnia. This is caused by the blue rays that our devices’ screens emit.
- Lower Social Skills. Having a habit to sit all day in front of screens makes our kids incapable of face-to-face interaction.
- Physical Problems. Your children can get addicted to their screens. This can cause physical problems like vision problems, obesity, and such.
Strategies to Manage Screen Time
Parents can implement different strategies and approaches to manage children’s screen time. In the following paragraphs, we’ll go over several strategies to manage screen time.
· Setting Screen Time Limits
Our kids need to respect our recommendations for screen time limits. Kids and parents often overlook the positive effect of limited screen time on their health. So, try setting yourself as an example when implementing screen time limits.
· Creating a Family Media Plan
Have you ever heard of a family media plan? Well, it’s a set of several written family rules regarding screen time usage. And you can even make up penalties if a family member doesn’t respect the rules!
· Encouraging Alternative Activities
Parents should advise their kids to actively take part in social activities, join sports clubs, educational courses, etc. This is great for their development, and it’s always fun to have hobbies!
Parents, be aware and protect your kids even if it is annoying for your kid. You need to move on and persuade your little ones that recommended screen time by age is an effective and productive parental strategy that brings up healthy kids with strong personalities.
What are the consequences of excessive screen time?
Excessive screen time can cause mental problems such as anxiety and depression, and physical problems like vision problems, obesity, etc.
How can parents encourage their children to engage in alternative activities to screen time?
Parents can do this by setting a family media plan and setting themselves as examples.
Are educational apps or games safe for children to use on screens?
Yes, educational apps are great. But too much time on educational apps is also not that good.
How much screen time should I allow my child on weekends?
Weekends are good for family bonding, and it would be excellent if you include your kids in family activities without devices. So, you can allow up to two hours for weekend days or don’t.
What is the impact of screen time on my child’s mental health?
Anxiety, frustration, and depression are some effects on kids’ mental health caused by excessive screen time.