More people in the world own a mobile device than a toothbrush. Screens are part of our daily lives. A recent report from Common Sense Media found that 42% of children 8 and younger now have their own tablet devices. They spend an average of 2 hours and 19 minutes a day with screen media. But the World Health Organisation has warned a dramatic increase in screen time is putting children's health at risk.
Scientific studies show that screens at evening/night severely affect the quantity and quality of our sleep, exposing us to blue light and stimulating our brain when it needs to wind down. Lack of sleep causes serious health problems (weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure…) and affects our kids’ results at school.
We all heard the other dangers of screens include exposure to harmful content like pornography, virtual violence (leading in many cases to real violence), bullying from other kids, impact on mental health, and creating a strong addiction to their devices.
But let’s be realistic, for busy parents screens can also have their advantages like keep your baby or young child entertained while you drink your coffee in peace, cook the dinner, wait for an appointment or travel a long car/train journey.
During lockdown and homeschooling, access to screens was a savior for many.
Some also feel it is important that their children learn digital skills from a young age, after all, they are growing up in an era where mobile devices and apps are essential to our everyday life.
Some educational computer games or mobile apps are proving very helpful to develop skills and to train their brains: Observation, logic, drawing, grammar, vocabulary, mathematics, sciences, computer coding… the choice is huge.
For teenagers, social media creates social connectedness and a sense of interaction. Plus, like for sweets or junk food, if you decide to completely ban screens, you might increase the desire for them and cause problems like driving the behavior underground (when they go to playdates/sleepovers with friends).
So instead of totally banishing screens and being punitive and controlling, parents are encouraged to create rules together with their children: Make a schedule, designate screen time slots each day, monitor what their children are doing online and favor high-quality content.
Screen time recommendations from experts are:
As a family challenge, you can participate in the international “Screen-free week”, See more at http://www.screenfree.org/
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