Screen Time for Children: Yay or Nay?

/ Screen Time for Children

With the world full of mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and other virtual gadgets, keeping your child away from screens is nearly impossible. On top of that, screen time can actually contribute to the knowledge and skill-set of your child, so with that in mind, how do you decide if screen time is good for your child or not?

The answer to your question is both yes and no. Screen time is both bad and good for your child and the key to successful parenting is to limit and monitor your child’s screen time.

Firstly, let us understand the disadvantages of screens and the long-term trouble of allowing your child with ample screen time.

1)      Obesity

We don’t see children running with their gadgets. When they’re engrossed in watching a show or playing games, they are stuck sitting or lying down in one position. And a survey suggests that 72% of the time, they are munching on something. Excessive television watching among children is the number three most popular cause of obesity. You can substitute your child’s favorite snacks with healthier, organic meals.

Fat American boy watching television and having junk food.
Hakeem Hack: Substitute the crisps with healthy zucchini or crispy kale chips!

2)      Sleeping issues

An average child needs more than 10 hours of sleep to function properly and lead a healthy lifestyle. Screens allow children to stay awake past their bedtime and thus end up impacting the child’s sleeping schedule. Loss of sleep can cause irritability, forgetfulness, and aggression in children. If you feel that your child cannot sleep properly even without any distractions, it is important to get him checked.

Young boy using his phone at night instead of sleeping.
Your child needs a healthy sleeping pattern!

3)      Vision impairment

Vision problems may arise in children who are exposed to screens for longer periods. This can also result in headaches and effected performance in school. If your child already wears spectacles, screen time should be limited.

Young boy with spectacles getting amused by his tablet.
Hakeem's Advice: Read books around your child. If you're excited about reading books, chances are that your child will ditch the iPad and pick up a book instead!

4)      Issues with mental and social development

Children who are glued to their screens hardly spend any time socializing with other kids their age and are not inclined towards other activities in life. This can greatly impact their ability to build meaningful relationships and might even result in depression in the later stages of life.

Sad boy sitting on the stairs.
This is the age to play, laugh and grow!

5)      Parenting difficulties

Once a child has no restrictions whatsoever, he gets used to it. Suddenly if the limitations are imposed, children become reluctant in obeying, throw tantrums and develop aggressive behavior. If you believe that your child is giving you a very hard time, it might be suitable to seek help from a psychologist.

Stubborn girl not listening to her parents.
Don't let your child boss you around!

Now that we’ve understood what exposing your child to screens for longer periods can do, it is time to learn how you can benefit from screens.

1)      Educational shows

Many cartoons and other children shows teach children numbers, patterns, alphabets, general knowledge and other virtues such as kindness and honesty. You can adjust the settings so that even in your absence, only such shows play. Some settings also enable parents to set the time and once it’s past the curfew, the system stops playing the series.

2)      Learning skills

For children above eight, devices can help teach new talents such as programming, early coding, Photoshop, etc. If you want to embed such skills in your child, you can sign your child up for courses and monitor the progress. Some children are visual learners. This means that they observe, understand and comprehend better visually. For such students, parents get pop-up books and interactive tablets. In the end, the trick is to know what is best for your child and understand that the excess of screen-time is bad.

3)      A way to bond

Some parents include screen time in their schedule as a way to bond with their children. Sundays (or any other day) are family days when a family movie is played and the children get to spend time with the family, discuss the movie and have fun in general.

In today’s time, it is inevitable to keep your child away from screens and many people disagree from doing so because they believe that the rapidly advancing technology is the future. However, the early stages of childhood are important for the child to develop other skills such as socializing, reading, playing and bonding which play a vital role in adulthood.

Hakeem’s Fact: CEO’s all over the world raise their children in low-tech surroundings.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the screen time for children should be no longer than two hours. For a better breakdown, here’s how much screen time science wants you to give based on your child’s age:

A kid's table showing the screen time limitations according to age.
Make sure that you don't exceed the given time!

Hakeem’s Advice: In teenagers, excessive internet use has known to cause anxiety. It is best to monitor your child’s online activities and substitute the time spent in the cyber-world with healthier activities such as music, art, sports, baking, etc.

Read: Here's how Art Therapy can Benefit Your Child

Screen Time for Children: Yay or Nay?
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