It’s no big secret that technology is here to stay, but what might be surprising is the strong influence it has an all ages and I mean ALL ages. We are all guilty of it. Even though we don’t want to admit it! How many times have you found yourself handing your child the phone? Whether it be at a restaurant to keep them quiet, or even at home while you finish up making dinner or doing a few chores around the house? Well one thing we have to really watch out for, is how long we give our kids our phones , and how much time they are spending on tablets too.
Common Sense Media acknowledges that there has been a significant change in the number of children that use tablets, phones, and iPads, from 4% in 2011, to 35% today. They found that 0-8 months currently average 2.19 hours of screen time daily, 8 months- 4 years average 2.40 hours, and 5-8 years average 3 hours a day.
It’s hardly surprising since technology is everywhere, and it’s near impossible to escape and almost as impossible to live without. So, how do we keep our children away from technology? (Especially when it’s our device they want!) The realistic truth is, you can’t. There is nothing more exciting to a child than a device that responds to their touch and unleashes a new world of colors and sounds. How are curious minds to resist? Although, American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children under 2 years of age not having exposure to any media, other than video calling, children 2 years and above can be introduced to screen time, but moderation is key. Common Sense Media suggests a healthy time limit is 1 hour a day and to ensure it’s of high quality programming and safe content.
As a nanny, I know the feeling of giving in to the little balls of energy and finally letting them play on their tablets. Suddenly, all is peaceful. The last 10 hours are incomparable to the now quiet atmosphere. The youngest one is even polite enough to say, “Thanks! I’ll turn my volume down for you too.” It makes my heart smile every time, but then I set the timer to 30 minutes and begin the countdown to chaos.
Heidi Murkoff in Kids and Ipads, expresses how important moderation is when introducing your kiddos to screen time. If you keep their use limited and activity monitored, you will see fewer downfalls, and that it can have an educational impact by helping to improve their vocabulary, math skills, and cognitive abilities.
Even though tablets and iPads can be used for educational benefits, and can be good for entertainment, a screen, alone, can not teach a child everything they need to know as they grow. A tablet can only provide sensory experiences, and a child learns best through toys, games, physical activities, free play, and face to face interactions. Murkoff continues by encouraging parents to keep offering opportunities for your child to learn through real world activities that get them to use their body, explore their environment, and develop new relationships.
A study done in 2013, Archives of Disease in Childhood, discovered that if the recommended time limit for screen usage is surpassed, a child is more likely to show signs of having attention and conduct problems, as well as stunting their language, social/ emotional insight, and empathy skills. If a child becomes dependent on using a tablet, iPad, or phone for their main entertainment, they will miss out on opportunities that allow them to learn about themselves, how to create their own fun, and distract them from socializing with their siblings, parents, and other children their age.
Through a study done by American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it has been realized that only 28% of parents are worried about the amount of time their child spends using screen time. They believe the less time, the better, but most parents state their child spends just the right amount of time (even a below average amount of time, on screens) and are simply worried about the content their child has access to. With 80% of parents agreeing with this statement, here are a few tips from AAP and Common Sense Mediato help you and your child take advantage of the pros of adding screen time.
Deciding whether to introduce your child to screen time can be a complicated subject, with a never ending list of things to consider, but if you explore Common Sense Media’s forum, Parents Need to Know, and remember moderation is key, you will see new doors open for you and your child!