What is Screen Time?
Screen time is defined as the time spent in front of a screen ( mobile, tablet, Desktop, Laptop, TV, Cinema,Virtual Reality gear, Game console for the purpose of entertainment. This excludes the time spent on high quality programs like educational programs or time spend for a project etc. Today's kids have access to devices mentioned above and hence can easily get addicted to them for cartoons,games, movies etc. Many a times parents use these devices a s a way to keep them occupied on a false assumption that kids are controlled when they are exposed to these.
What is the recommended time?
American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use, except for video-chatting, by children younger than 18 to 24 months. If you want to introduce digital media to children ages 18 to 24 months, make sure it's high quality and avoid solo media use. For children ages 2 to 5, limit screen time to one hour a day of high-quality programming. As your child grows, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work as well.
What parents need to know?
Why screen time is given more importance now? Because we are living ina world where use og gadgets are gaining popularity. The studies show a direct correlation between gadget use and development in children. Excessive screen time:
- Bring sleeplessness to the child.
- Children prone to attention issues
- Child can develop severe anxiety and depression
- Behavioral problems
- Loss of social skills
- Less time for outdoor activities
At an age, when child is developing his social skills,he needs two-way interaction. Whereas wrt Screens,the child is getting a one-way communication or a monologue and not a dialogue. The child is left to listen what is being said and has to suppress his natural instinct to participate in it. If the situation is left to continue over a period of time, child will end up being a passive actor in real life scenarios and wont interfere or participate in real situations. A child learns by listening and observing his surroundings which includes learning emotions by looking at faces, gestures or how to approach a situation.
What Parents should do?
Its impossible to deny access to TV, mobile phones, tablets to today's kids. They can access these at home, schools or at friends place. The solution is to restrict the total time they spend on entertainment by:
- Creating a schedule which is explained to the kid so that he is well aware when he can spend time to watch/play on screens.
- Allow to watch TV or computer under adult supervision.
- Do not let your child eat while watching TV or using the computer.
- Decide which programs to watch ahead of time. Turn off the TV when those programs are over.
- Engage more in family activities involving outdoor activities.
- As a parent you also need to restrict your screen time.
Its important to ensure that the child watches quality programs ( whether its entertainment or educational) which ensures that child learns something from the program and adds to his/her development.