Technology is becoming more and more popular these days so where is the limit on how much we should be looking at screens? Well, this is different for everyone but you need to keep a close eye on your kids just to make sure they’re getting the good bits out of using technology, instead of the bad things.
There’s loads of research that shows the effects of different lengths of screen time on different age groups which is really helpful to figure out the best thing for your child. Too much screen time for kids can really slow down a child’s development so let’s try and figure out the happy medium.
Screen Time for Children
Children’s screen time is simply any time they spend in front of a screen, this could be using an Ipad or computer or even watching TV. You’d be surprised how much of an effect these things can have on your kids if they aren’t supervised – but don’t worry, we’re here to help you avoid that.
Screen time can also be really good for your little one when it’s used to help them learn, regulate emotions or just take some time to themselves, you just don’t want it to become excessive.
Introducing Screen Time Rules
Just like everything else in life, screens can be really good but they also have some negatives that you can’t avoid. This is why it’s better to set rules for your kids before things get out of hand so that you can keep them as safe as possible.
You might be asking yourself ‘how much screen time is healthy’ and wondering how you set those boundaries with your little one but it’s way easier than you’re probably thinking.
Keep the conversation open and make sure that everyone is on the same page.
There’s no point trying to set a new rule with your kid if your partner is going to pop them in front of a screen so make sure not only your child but all family members know what your kids screen time rules are.
Make a plan so that your kid can see what you’re trying to do. Children are much better when they can see what’s going to happen so your little one might find it easier to deal with this change if they know what to expect.
Another great way to introduce age appropriate screen time is sticking to the same time in the day when your kid has screen time. Getting into a routine can help everyone with the transition to new rules but you’ll also find that if you keep it simple then everyone will be happier. Don’t make a big deal of it, just add it into your daily routine and you’ll realize how easy it can be.
You should also have screen free time with your little one to help show them that it’s a good thing. There’s no point trying to set screen time limits if you spend all your spare time in front of a screen. Children need to see their parents doing other things as well so that they can see they don’t need to spend all their time in front of a screen. Try and do things as a family like board games or going to the park, keep the screens somewhere else in the house or at home when you go out and you’ll be surprised how quickly they forget about them.
The last thing to do is stick to the rules you set. When you’re going by the recommended screen time by age, there’s going to be a lot of tantrums so be prepared but this doesn’t mean you should give up on what you’re trying to do. Set rules and stick to them, deal with the tantrum as they come and remember that the early you start the easier it’ll be.
But, how much is too much screen time? We’d say that anything more than two hours of screen time may be a bit much as your kids could be spending this time outside or engaging in physical activity.
Screen Time Recommendations by Age
You’ll be happy to know that setting screen time for kids doesn’t mean they never get to use technology. If they already have an ipad or you enjoy the occasional family movie night then you don’t have to sacrifice any of this, you just need to know what’s healthy for them.
Screen time recommendations change a lot depending on the age of your child so it’s a lot easier to start when they’re little so that they aren’t already in the habit of using a screen whenever they’re bored.
The screen time recommendations by age chart should hopefully give you a better understanding of how many hours of screentime is healthy depending on how old they are but we’ll also look a little closer at each age group.
|Age||Screen Time Recommendation|
|18-24 months||Less than 1 hour|
|2-5 years||0-3 hours|
|6-17 years||2 hours|
|18 and up||2-4 hours|
It’s recommended that children under the age of 2 have no screen time at all unless it’s to video chat and talk to family members. Starting screen time rules this young will really set you up for success in the future because your little one will learn how to deal with boredom in other ways.
This is when you can start introducing screen time if that’s something you’re looking to do. Try and stick to things that are interactive and educational and always supervise them when they’re using technology. Keep it fun and if your child doesn’t have any interest then no worries.
This is a very big age range which means lots of different things are going to work for different families. Keep an eye on the media your kid is using just to make sure they’re staying safe. You can also try and encourage them to use educational games but remember there’s no harm in having some fun either.
18 and Above
Once your child reaches 18 then they’re probably going to start deciding how much time they spend on their phone by themselves. You can’t really control them at this point but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a conversation if you think they’re doing something unsafe or you feel things like hobbies and exercise are being neglected.
Is Screen Time Bad for Kids?
This is quite a big question, especially if you’re getting your kid a new phone or tablet soon. Lots of parents find themselves concerned over if screen time is bad for their kids. So, take a look at these pros and cons that we’ve put together in order to see whether screen time is doing more good or damage for your kid.
There are many benefits to screen time and whilst too much screen time can negatively affect your kid, it’s really good when it’s in little chunks. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of screen time for your little one.
- Educational – If you want to use screen time for learning then you can get your kid to take photos, make videos, use maps online, or even teach others how to play certain games
- Boost Creativity – Using digital technology and screen time can actually boost creativity as well as problem solving skills so if this is something your kid struggles with, there are lots of apps that can help.
- Socialize – Too much screen time could cause the opposite effect to this but a healthy amount of screen time can actually improve your kid’s ability to socialize and can improve their well being. You may have seen during the pandemic, how many kids did playdates online and were still able to be social with their friends despite the hard time.
- Fine Motor Skills – Screen time can also help your kid to develop those finer motor skills and believe it or not, working with screens can help improve their hand-eye coordination.
- Healthy Habits – There are lots of apps out there that can help your kid (and you too!) to develop healthy habits in life such as regular exercise and better sleep. If your kid is one who’s anxious then there are also lots of mindfulness apps that can help them which is great news.
- Speech Development – Screen time can also help with speech development and also encourages family relationships.
As well as pros, there are a few cons but most of them apply to when your kid gets too much screen time. Technology is good in small amounts so make sure your kid isn’t spending too much time on their screens as it could do more harm than good.
- Low Test Scores – Research by experts show that some kids that spend longer than two hours tend to score lower on tests that involve thinking and language.
- Cortex Thinning – Kids who spend more than seven hours a day on screens may experience thinning of the cortex which is the part of the brain that’s very important for reasoning and thinking
- Less Engaged – You may find your kid becoming a little less engaged in the real time environment around them
- Attention Problems – Your kid could suffer from attention problems because of the increased exposure because of the rapid image changes
- Sleep Deprivation – You may also find that your kid is at increased risk of sleep deprivation and weight gain.
- Weaker Communication – A lot of screen time can actually make your kid’s communication a lot weaker and they may struggle socially
Screen Time Kids
Screen time for kids can be great and there are so many benefits to it when your kid has a healthy relationship with their screen. But, if you do find your kid’s eyes glued to a screen twenty four seven then this could cause adverse effects and can do a little bit more harm.
Technology is educational, and fun, and can encourage your kid to grow but make sure you set boundaries in terms of how much time your kid spends on those computers so you don’t cause any harm to them in the future. Trust us, they’ll thank you for it.