As a parent, you know that managing screen time for your children can be a challenge. Too much screen time can lead to issues such as sleep problems, moodiness, and difficulty concentrating. On the other hand, you don’t want to deprive your children of the opportunity to explore and learn through technology. So how much screen time is healthy and how can you strike the right balance?
According to the Health Promotion Board (HPB), toddlers under 18 months old should not be allowed any passive viewing screen time at all. Passive viewing refers to looking at television or mobile phone screens without any adult co-viewing and interaction. Children between 18 and 36 months should have no more than one hour of screen time every day.
Proper and safe use of digital devices can help manage the amount of screen time kids have. By setting rules, keeping to routines, and ensuring healthy boundaries around screen time, parents can still take appropriate measures to ensure that the overall screen time for children doesn’t become too overwhelming. Here are four ways to aid screen time management for your children.
1. Establish rules and limits for device use
To prevent the unhealthy consequences of unlimited screen time, the first measure should be establishing rules and limits for device use. For example, prohibiting digital devices and forbidding screens after 9pm facilitates good sleep hygiene. Studies have shown that screen time after dark disrupts the natural sleep cycle in human beings and pushes back bedtime for children. Excessive screen time also contributes to the development of insomnia and sleep disruption. By establishing ground rules and limits for device use, your child can get proper rest and wake up more refreshed for the next day ahead.
2. Place devices in a central location
Another method to manage digital device screen time for children is to place these devices in a central location. Whether it’s the kitchen or family room, the goal is to ensure that these devices are used in places where they can be monitored. This also benefits parents co-viewing the respective content with children, allowing for parent-child interaction and supervision of content. Through co-viewing, parents can set an example for children by regulating screen-time exposure and enforcing good screen time habits such as taking regular breaks to rest their eyes. Devices placed in central locations can help limit children from any negative screen-time exposure while building good habits for future digital device use.
3. Using parental blocks and filters
In instances where children are required to utilise digital devices independently, parent blocks and filters can be set up to limit prolonged screen time. Parents can set limits on devices that prohibit specific content from the eyes of young ones. Violent or action-packed content that will affect developing minds negatively should be high on the list of filtered material. Extended exposure to such programming is associated with heightened aggressiveness and imitation of violent behaviour. Parental blocks and filters may also be used to automatically limit the duration in which children are able to access digital devices. Pre-programmed lock outs can also be utilised to cut down on excessive screen time for children.
4. Replace screen time with fun enrichment activities
Another approach to managing digital device use involves substituting recreational screen time with fun and engaging enrichment activities. Creative workshops such as writing and reading serve to foster strong language skills while taking children’s eyes off of the screen. For the more outgoing and expressive child, drama workshops over the holidays also provide a platform for the child to engage with other children while honing their speech and interpersonal skills. These activities pave the way for a strong foundation in education, equipping kids with the skills needed as they take on the next steps in their academic journey.
Managing screen time and digital device usage in children is no mean feat in this modern age of the Internet. Measured steps combined with real-world enrichment goes a long way in ensuring that your child receives the best of both worlds while cultivating good digital habits that he will follow through for life.
MindChamps Enrichment Academy offers different programmes such as the MindChamps Reading Programme, MindChamps Writing Programme as well as various holiday webinars and workshops. Book our centre tour in Singapore to find out more today!