As we spend more time at home, parents are becoming increasingly more concerned with the amount of time their children are spending in front of a screen and rightfully so, as it increases sedentary behaviour. As a result, young children and teens are more likely to become obese, which leads to a number of other health problems. So, how much time on a digital device is too much for children? I have teamed up with a prep school in Somerset to explore further.
You know your child better than anyone, so only you can determine if their screen use is becoming an unhealthy habit. You may hear the opinions of other parents and family members, but don’t let this sway your decision when it comes to establishing rules with regards to your child’s screen use. Consider whether or not your child is getting enough physical exercise and face to face social interactions. Think about whether they seem tired, as their screen use may be hindering their ability to fall asleep at night. Encourage them to find other ways to spend their time, like joining an extra-curricular activity that keeps their mind and body active.
It might be a good idea to establish some media-free zones or times within your home, like no phones in the bedroom or at the dinner table, or no phones after 7 pm. This will help your child learn that there are other things in life, outside of playing on digital devices. Your rules may cause some tension within the family so be sure to explain your reasoning and act as a good role model. After all, you can’t expect your child not to look at their phone during dinner if you’re tapping away at yours the whole time.
Have a chat with your child’s teachers to find out more about what they are doing to educate their students on the dangers of too much screen time. Bear in mind that technology isn’t always used in a negative way; it provides lots of learning opportunities and allows them to connect with friends and family who don’t necessarily live nearby. The first step in understanding how much screen time is appropriate for your child is determining how they are using it in the first place.
For more ideas on how to get kids outdoors and off screens more, take a look at our free days out section.