We as parents, often feel guilty about exposing our children to various electronic gadgets like Mobile Phone, Laptop or TV. We know instinctively that higher exposure to Screen Time for kids may not be good. But many times, we allow this to happen because of the demands of our practical reality. I have used the tactic of playing a video on my mobile phone to get my child to sit at the dining table and eat her food. At times, I have also used TV programs to calm my tantrum throwing a child or to do some other urgent work.
This article aims to understand 3 things with regards to Screen Time for Kids:
i. Why are children attracted to electronic devices?
ii. What exactly is the harm that over-exposure does?
iii. What are the expert recommend guidelines for exposure to electronic gadgets?
Why are children attracted to electronic devices?
Children learn by imitating their parents. When they see us glued to our electronic devices all the time, they learn that these devices are important. The content we access on our devices is auditory and visual in nature which makes it more attractive to children. This gives us some clues as to what we can do reduce the interest levels of our children towards electronic gadgets.
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What harm does over-exposure do?
Numerous studies and research have repeatedly found that over-exposure of electronic devices (including TV) and digital media to young children results in problems, such as:
- Negative impact on cognitive, language, motor and socio-emotional milestones. Young children cannot learn about the world around them from these devices as well as they do from Parents or other people around them. It has also been noted that children find it difficult to transfer their knowledge learnt from these electronic media into our real 3-D world.
- Increased chances of childhood and later-stage obesity. Obesity has been linked to numerous other potential health issues.
- It results in sleep deprivation for the children, which has been linked to other health and development problems
- More screen time results in less physical movement and can lead to poor muscle development and control. Meanwhile, hunching over screens can also encourage bad posture and result in back and neck problems.
Screen Time for Kids: Guidelines Recommended by Experts
American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) has guidelines with regards to the usage of electronic devices and the amount of time that can be spent by a child viewing these devices (Screen Time). A few of the key recommendations, relevant for the ages of 0-5 Years are:
- For children younger than 18 Months, No Screen Time at all.
- For 18-24 Months child, avoid Screen Time completely, if you can. However, If you can’t, occasional viewing of “High-Quality Programming” is fine, provided parent is co-viewing the content and guiding the child.
- For 2-5 Years child, maximum of 1 Hour per Day of viewing time of “High-Quality Programming”, again co-viewed and in the guidance of the parent.
Now let us look at the recommendations of the Department of Health, Australia:
- Birth to 2 Years: No exposure to watching TV or any other electronic devices
- 2-5 Years: Maximum exposure of 1 Hour/Day to TV or any other electronic media
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We understand that parenting in real-life is often far from ideal. There are practical difficulties in always sticking to the suggestions of experts. In fact, many commentators have criticised these recommendations as not being practical. While we should never ignore the advice of experts, over the next few articles, we will try and explore practical solutions for this problem of overexposure to Screen Time for Kids.
- Have you ever wondered why your child is so attracted to a smartphone or a tablet?
- In this article, our Experts examine the reasons behind this attraction.
- Over-exposure to electronic gadgets can have a long lasting negative impact on developmental milestones.
- The article also provides Experts recommendation on appropriate Screen Time for children of different age group.
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If your kid insists on viewing an electronic gadget, how do you handle the situation?
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