Screen Time and Children: A quick guide

With the ever changing world of technology and the digital age, screens are conveniently accessible more so than ever. With easy access to TV, laptops, iPad and phones, young kids and toddlers are constantly exposed to screen time. There have been recent concerns that over exposure to screen time can have severe implications on children, especially toddlers and babies. Since most of a baby’s brain development happens in the early stage of his or her life,  it’s important to limit the amount of time they spend staring at screens. Over using laptops, TV’s and iPad can affect your toddler’s cognitive and language development and cause mental health disorders while it can affect older children negatively  by exposing them to misleading information, predators and  cyberbullying along with sexual & violent content.

Due to the various reasons listed above, it is important that you limit the amount of time babies and children  spend  in front of a screen. Read on for a quick guide on how to make sure your baby uses his or her screen time as safely and productively as possible.

  • It is suggested that babies younger than 18 months should not have any screen time at all. With the current pandemic situation, an exception to this rule can be video calls with friends and relatives in order to interact and keep in touch.
  • Between 18-24 months, screen time should be limited to a few minutes of an educational program.
  • Turn off all screens during family events, trips and meal times. Encourage your children to spend some qualitytime with the family without the distractions of electronic devices.
  • As tempting as it is, try not to use iPad and TVs as a distraction to pacify crying babies.
  • Make sure you are always around to chaperone when your child is using a computer or TV.
  • Include parental control on your Computers and TVs.
  • Make sure to turn off screens at least an hour prior to your child’s bedtime.
  • Make sure all the programmes being watched by your children are age appropriate.
  • Encourage your child to engage in other activities such as sports and art. This can help them spend less time in front of the TV and develop more interests and hobbies.
  • There are many apps and games available freely online. Before downloading apps onto your tab or phone, make sure to do some thorough research to ensure that it’s age-appropriate.
  • When watching TV with your toddler or child, make sure to have a conversation with him/her about what they are seeing. You can point out good behavior, meaningful conversations, sharing and concern for others. This may influence their day to day life.
  • Little children are easily influenced therefore set an example by limiting your own screen time. Try to let your child see you engaging in other activities such as reading or gardening.
  • Even though you will be around when your child is using the internet, it is always a good idea to teach them about online safety and privacy.
  • Regularly ask your child what programs and apps he/she has watched or played during the day.
  • Discourage the use of media entertainment during homework and playtime unless specified by the school.