Nowadays, children and adolescents spend way too much time in front of the television or tablets/phones. What many mothers don’t realize is that your children spending so much time in front of a screen is not only unhealthy and has negative effects, but it also strips them from living a normal childhood.
What most parents don’t realize is that while sitting your child in front of screens keeps them quiet – or helps during feeding time – this is not the right environment for kids, especially infants and toddlers. Children should be outside playing, reading, playing with puzzles, and interacting with other children and people around them. Sitting glued to their tablets or television screens definitely causes more harm than good.
Some of the long term effects of too much screen time include:
- Losing social skills
- Behavioral problems
- Reading less
- Limited playtime
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), children should spend more time engaged in physical activity and getting enough sleep. As parents, we have an important role to play in regards to monitoring and limiting the time our kids are exposed to screens.
Parental locks on smart devices, not giving access to your children at all time, not linking meal time with screen time, and simply as hard as it may seem, not giving in to your children when they ask to watch television or tablet are just some ways to help you limit screen time. Following the recommended screen time guidelines may also help you limit your children’s exposure.
Here is screen time guidelines recommended by the WHO for your children:
- Infant (less than 1 year of age): Screen time is not recommended.
- 1-2 years of age: No screen time for a 1-year-old. No more than ONE hour or less per day for 2-year-olds.
- 3 to 4 years of age: No more than one hour per day.
If your children are adolescents, monitoring their screen time will definitely be more difficult; however, you can try to speak to your children and give them guidelines as to what is appropriate behavior when dealing with the Internet and screen time. Adolescents have different issues when dealing with screen time such as bullying and cyber-sex. Speaking to your children is extremely important to give them awareness.
As challenging as this may seem, following these guidelines, especially when your children are young, will make it easier for you to have them follow a screen time routine as they get older. Take your kids to play outside, to the club or park, go for walks, read books together, let them live a childhood they will remember for the rest of their lives.
- New WHO guidance: Very limited daily screen time recommended for children under 5 – WHO
- Screen Time Guidelines for Babies and Toddlers – Kidshealth.org
- Screen time and children – Mayoclinic