Survey Suggests Children Need Less Screen Time
Should we be moving children away from screens and giving them less screen time, or are we going to end up blocking them from entering a society based around technology and information?
A well-known fact is that it’s hard being a parent. Sometimes you want to leave them to play with one of their toys but in the modern age that we live, handing them an iPad or an iPhone is easier to keep them busy and occupied for a little while. Whether it’s playing video games or taking silly selfies, it’s a great way to keep your kids entertained for an hour or two. Although, in a recent article by the BBC, it suggests that by letting toddlers spend a long time using screens can affect their development of skills such as language and sociability according to a recent study in Canada. Is screen time really a good thing?
The research tracked around 2,500 two-year-old kids and is the latest piece of evidence in the debate about how much screen time is safe for kids. Unlike the UK, in the United States and Canada, experts have said that children shouldn’t use screens before they are least 18 months old. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health says there isn’t enough evidence, even when you include this new study, for a “direct toxic effect”.
Mothers were surveyed between 2011 and 2016 about screen use and answered questions in regards to their child’s skills and development at ages two, three and five. For the purposes of the survey, screen time doesn’t just refer to tablets and mobile phones, but also TV, films and videos, gaming as well. At the age of two, the children were summing up to around 17 hours of screen time a week. This increased to around 25 hours a week by the time they turn three but it dropped to around 11 hours when they start primary school.
The findings were published in the JAMA Paediatrics which suggests an increase in viewing before any delay in development can be seen; “rather than children with poor developmental performance then going on to have more screen time”. It isn’t yet clear whether screen time is directly to blame. Instead, screen use might be linked with other factors of delayed development such as upbringing and how a child’s remaining leisure time is spent.
Where’s The Limit?
The new study doesn’t make any recommendations about where the limit is – or how much is too much – but some of the surveyed kids were getting more than four hours a day or 28 hours a week of screen use.
As the American Association of Paediatrics says in their guidelines:
– For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting
– Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they are seeing
– For children ages two to five years, limit screen use to one hour per day of high-quality programmes. Again, parents should be watching it with their children.
– For children ages six and older, place consistent limits, making sure screen time does not get in the way of sleep and physical activity.
One thing that is for sure is that screen time for children younger than the age of two isn’t recommended.