Screens are everywhere in today’s society and play a huge part in our daily lives. However, it is important to think about the impact this may be having on our children’s development and consider how much time on these devices are appropriate and how we should be using them. Here’s what you should know about screen time for children.
What is screen time?
Screen time relates to the time spent using an electronic device with a screen. This can include a smart phone, tablet device, computer, laptop or TV.
How does screen time affect children?
Research has shown that too much screen time for children can lead to poor sleep and attention. Research has also shown that the more time children spend on screen devices, the more likely they are at risk of poorer developmental and communication outcomes. This starts to make sense when we think about how we learn language. Language is learnt through social interaction; listening and engaging with peers. This is something screens cannot offer so it’s use is limiting a child’s opportunity to practice and therefore learn how to use language and communication.
What’s the recommended amount of screen time for children?
The Australian Government Department of Health Guidelines and the American Academy of Paediatrics recommend following these guidelines depending on your child’s age:
- Ages 0-2 years: No screen time (skyping/video callinga parent is okay)
- Ages 2-5 years: No more than 1 hour per day.
How to reduce screen time for children
Reducing screen time for children can help combat some of its detrimental impacts. Here are some ways you can reduce screen time with your child:
- Encourage your child to play outside, with peers, or with toys
- Turn off screens during mealtimes
- Limit screens before bed and replace this with reading a bed-time story
- Be a role model and limit your own use with your phone/screens
- When you are using screens, use it with your child and use it as an opportunity to communicate and learn together.
- Follow the recommended guidelines of screen time per day.
We understand each child and family situation is different. We also understand the temptation of giving our children screens, especially when it appears to settle them or distract them while we complete other demands. To work through this positively and effectively for your individual family, talk to your Speech and Language Pathologist or the friendly team at the Lizard Centre. Our Program Supervisors will be able to guide you on how to effectively reduce screen time for your child.
Author: Johanna Sciancalepore (CPSP., MSLP., BSHS.) 2018.