If you are worried about your child spending too much time in front of a screen, you are not alone. Children are using technology in ways that their parents weren’t, at least from such a young age. In this new digital age, children as young as two or three are using their parents’ iPads or smartphones to access digital content.
There is a palpable moral panic amongst some parents about this. Some of the concerns that have been raised are:
– digital devices increase the degree of social isolation in contemporary children,
– excessive use of digital media devices has a negative impact on children’s social skills,
– screen time can lead to increased obesity in today’s children.
Although many parents are worried about the effect that screen time is having on their children’s physical, social and emotional development, it is obvious that the use of digital technology is not going anywhere. We are not going to stop using this technology any time soon.
Screen time in moderation
Tanya Byron, a child and family psychologist, suggests that the period between 3 and 14 years of age, is one of intense cognitive, social and physical development. New neurons are developing, and neuronal networks are being laid down. In her professional opinion, technology is not the most useful experience in this period of development of young brains.
For this reason many psychologists and health professionals suggest that children under the age of two years old, should have 0 hours screen time per day. This includes television and other digital media. For children aged over two years, it is recommended that parents limit screen time to two hours or less per day.
This is a far cry from the experiences of some young children, who may spend 7.5 hours on screen time a day. If we wish to protect the integrity of this important period of cognitive, social and physical development, and provide superior developmental experiences, we should try to limit screen time to two hours per day for young children.
Alternative activities and modelling
Parents can help their child by modelling this behaviour. Often children see their parents engaging with their digital device constantly. This can be where the child learns to want to extend their screen time activities.
Reading to your child, talking and singing to your child, and playing with him is still incredibly important. Doing physical activities outside and playing games is beneficial. Unstructured play with toys such as blocks or pretend play with favourite toy friends, is also highly recommended.
All of these kind of non screen experiences will help your child to develop strong and resilient neuronal networks. This will enhance her cognitive, social and emotional and physical development.
Browse our range of educational toys, active, outdoor toys, or construction toys for unstructured play, that can help your child to engage in non screen based learning experiences and build his or her neuronal network.