Some parents are jumping with joy, while others are dreading the summer coming up. Two months of kids, kids and more kids. Yes, we love them and of course we love spending time with them – but it’s going to be a long summer, and while during the year it is somehow easier to control the dreaded screen time, in the summer it gets that much harder. Some parents will be using screen time to get some much-needed quiet time, while others are braving the unknown and going cold turkey, leaving gadgets and tablets behind and taking their chances! Our thoughts are with you!
But how bad is screen time really?
Recently, there have been studies flying in from all directions, some advocating screen time, while others harshly condemning it. At this point, you might expect gadgets to come with a health warning! CAUTION: OVER EXPOSURE CAN PROVE HARMFUL!
The fact is that screen time is an inescapable reality, and finding what you are comfortable with might be the best way to go, but here is some information to help you along the way.
Babies under 18 months – No intentional screen time recommended. Screen time might interfere with this critical time of proper brain development, building of vocabulary and social interactions.
Children 2 to 5 years – One hour a day. Between nursery/school, naps, playing, eating and a good night’s sleep, there isn’t much time anyway for screen time. Picking the right programs is essential here – shows like Sesame Street are great as they are educational and not over stimulating.
Children 6-12 – No more than two hours a day. Between school, homework, activities and some creative play, a couple of hours a day is probably all they will have left!
Teens – This is where it gets pretty interesting. According to the latest research from the University of Oxford, they found that four hours and 17 minutes is the magic number to spend on-screen, providing enough time to develop social connections and skills. More than that and exposure becomes potentially harmful.
Just like everything else out there, screen time has its pros and cons. The plethora of games and apps out there help develop coordination, hone reactions and sharpen language skills. The downside is it breeds impatience, lessens social interactions and therefore skills, increases passivity and lack of movement. In the Gulf region especially, over-exposure to screen time has been linked with obesity. Another downside is that kids become emotionally desensitised, if they are playing games that involve a lot of violence.
Mumzworld’s Top Tips:
- Children follow your lead – if it’s okay for you, they think it’s fine for them.
- Engage them with hobbies and activities that will cut down screen time.
- Forbidden fruit is the sweetest – moderation is key.
Have a great day from Team Mumzworld!