The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently released their screen time guidelines – according to TIME, for the first time ever – and their recommended maximum time is way less than the amount of time most parents are probably allowing their kids.
“Sedentary screen time should be no more than one hour,” for children under five they advise, adding “Less is better.”
Read more about these guidelines here: Are these new screen time guidelines for children under 5 realistic?
But the stats indicate that with computers, TVs and smartphones becoming essential to many people’s day-to-day lives, one hour seems nearly impossible.
Think about it – when you’re looking for a few minutes to finish off supper, do you get the kids to help out or play quietly outside? Or do you sit them down to watch a perfectly-timed 15-minute special of Peppa Pig as you get the veggies in the oven?
The stats are in, and they’re leaning towards the latter, with 64% of children under the age of two watching over two hours of TV and videos every day.
How it affects their growth
In the first three years of our lives, our brains develop rapidly – tripling in size. At this age, we learn to talk, show emotion and concentrate. Screens are stealing the valuable time that kids need to strengthen these skills, and without practice, their ability to communicate and focus can slow or even regress.
This often leads to misdiagnoses of ADHD or learning disabilities.
But that’s not all.
Growing up with a dependency on devices can cause dysfunction in a child’s brain, their sleep quality decreases and they’re unable to regulate moods or tolerate stress.
And the earlier children begin to use digital devices and develop particular habits, the harder it will be for them to stop.
So what can you do to reduce the time your child spends staring at their screens?
The answer is simple: start by policing yourself.
Children tend to imitate adult behaviour – it'll be easier for them to lower their screen time if you limit yours.
We'd suggest that the screen time you do allow be educational, or time you can enjoy together. But there are other ways to bond.
Having them rinse off the veggies and lay out the place mats is a far better alternative in the long run.
What is your alternative to screen time? How do you keep the kids occupied at home? Tell us and we could share your comments with our readers and fellow parents.