Screen time includes TV/video, mobile phones, iPads/tablets and computers. Do young children learn from using these devices? All of these offer educational programs targeted at children. Some educational TV shows, apps and websites may have positive effects on learning, including language. However many have little quality evidence supporting their claims. It is important that parents are wary of apps/programs offering claims to “enhance” their children’s learning.
There is some evidence that too much screen time can increase the risk of learning difficulties and have negative impacts on health. These include development of language and social skills, attention, sleep, obesity, self-regulation (ability to control emotions) and general health. This is particularly the case when they are watching or playing games alone for long periods and/or the TV is on all day. After all quality learning occurs through real life, meaningful experiences and interactions – with you!
We can’t deny technology is a big part of our lives. It can be hard to avoid at times. So we need to make sure that we use screen time beneficially and in moderation for our young children.
How do you make it beneficial? If you chose to give your child some screen time, ensure that you monitor what they are watching or playing. For example:
- Play the game with your child, have fun and make it a mutually enjoyable interaction. This gives you an opportunity to explain incorrect answers – which an iPad or tablet does not do well!
- When watching TV, talk to them about what is happening, relate things to real life (when possible). Every day experiences increase meaning and understanding. For example, if you see an animal on TV, talk about your trip to a farm or the zoo or an animal you saw at the park.
How much is moderate? Below are some guidelines about how much screen time is recommended for babies and young children:
- Under 2 years – none! YOU are the most important thing for your baby to watch!!
- For 2-5 years no more than one hour per day of screen time (across all types). Parents should encourage only high quality education programs and apps and view/use them with their child.
You can find more information about this topic here http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/screen_time.html