Sometimes parenting is all about survival, right? Toddler tantrums in restaurants, supermarkets, trains, planes and automobiles is commonplace and something all parents hope to avoid.
After all, what parent hasn’t succumbed to giving their iPhone or iPad to their child for just ten minutes of peace!?
Children are growing up in a very different world to the one we did. The digital era means that smart phones, computer games, and other digital distractions are a part of daily life. It is normal for parents to worry about the impact this has, and whether it replaces preschooler games and the great oudoors.
In the UK, Ofcom estimates that the average 3-4-year-old spends three hours a day in front of a screen. The question is, how much screen time is enough for a young child?
All in moderation
In 2014, a study by the University of Oxford found that children who played video games for an hour or less (a day) were happier and crucially had fewer emotional and social problems than those who never played, or did so for three hours or more a day.
This view seems to be echoed by an in-depth study by UINCEF in 2017, which revealed that some screen time can be good for children’s wellbeing – although they viewed "too much" as having a negative impact.
Tech with benefits
So, what are the benefits? In Digital Generations: Children, young people and the new media – (by David Buckingham and Rebekah Willet) they suggest that: “Computer games, the internet and other new communications media are often seen to pose threats and dangers to young people; but they also provide new opportunities for creativity and self-determination.”
It can be said that some exposure to technology can help provide children with valuable life skills. The impetus to persist, dealing with problem solving, strategic thinking and of course resilience. When you think about how many of these issues come up in the workplace and life, it may have a long-term benefit for the next generation.
Among some of the concerns around the role of technology, is how it can prevent children from playing outside or take part in important play activities. It can also be hard for parents to monitor consumption, meaning that children can be exposed to inappropriate content for their age. And the list goes on…
Limiting scree time
The amount of exposure your child has to TV, technology and games is an entirely personal and individual choice.
In 2013 the US Department of Health suggested that children under the age of two should not be exposed to screens at all, while those over that age should be limited to no more than two hours a day.
Here’s a few handy tips for parents:
· Set the rules from a young age, having boundaries helps children understand what is acceptable and not
· Kids respond well to ‘warnings’ giving them a five-minute warning before their screen time is up may help
· You can download an app called ScreenLimit which allows parents to manage screen time
· Have a toy bar for children – think of it like a box of small toys, that you bring out to play with together instead of defaulting to TV or devices
· Take a break every half hour to 40 minutes of screen time
For the latest news, follow Munchy Play on Twitter.