As a parent, how much ‘screen time’ your children should be exposed to is something that is always a consideration – in a world where TVs, phones, laptops and iPads are common in most homes. So what’s the official advice? The World Health Organisation says that 3 – 4 year olds should have ‘no more than 1 hour a day screen time, preferably less’ and if you have younger children (those aged less than 2 years), they should not spend ANY time passively watching screens. However, this can be really hard to manage on a daily basis! As children get older and more independent online, finding the right balance for your family can be challenging, but the key is to think about it early on and set some clear boundaries around their online use. It’s also important to remember as your child grows, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work as well. You’ll need to decide how much screen time your children should have each day and what’s appropriate. Some screen time can be hugely beneficial and actually be a fantastic learning aid – after all, Exemplar Education is exclusively online! Some children’s TV channels such as CBeebies can also help basic numeracy and literacy and start to educate children in important life lessons. Older children will also start to incorporate internet research into their homework – so screen time becomes a valuable part of their day. Some great tips to manage screen time for younger children are;
  • Preview programs, games and apps before allowing your child to view or play with them.
  • Better yet, watch, play or use them with your child!
  • Seek out interactive options that engage your child, rather than those that just require pushing and swiping or staring at the screen.
  • Use parental controls to block or filter internet content.
  • Make sure your child is close by during screen time so that you can supervise their activities.
  • Ask your child regularly what programs, games and apps they have played with during the day.
  • When watching programming with your child, discuss what you’re watching and educate them about advertising and commercials.
If you have older children, the following is great advice;
  • Prioritise unplugged, unstructured playtime.
  • Create tech-free zones or times, such as during mealtime or one night a week.
  • Discourage use of media entertainment during homework.
  • Set and enforce daily or weekly screen time limits and curfews, such as no exposure to devices or screens one hour before bedtime.
  • Consider using apps that control the length of time a child can use a device.
  • Require your children to charge their devices outside of their bedrooms at night.
  • Keep screens out of your child’s bedroom.
  • Limit your own screen time.
  • Eliminate background TV.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on screen time – let us know in the comments!