How much screen time for kids is good screen time?

Jun 23 , 2021

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Aditi Sriprasad

How much screen time for kids is good screen time?

Needless to mention, everything from our shopping lists to work and school schedules is now available at the click of a button. From kids to their grandparents, everyone has become a tad-more tech-dependent, making ‘zero screen-time’ an impractical option across every age group.

However, where does one draw the line between necessary screen time and too much of it? 

WHO recommends no screens for children under 2 years, and less than an hour a day for children between the ages of 2 and 5 ( as per their guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for young children). Another review led by developmental psychologist Daniel Anderson concluded that watching TV didn’t teach children under 2 years of age as much as live-interaction did. 

However, 3-5 years old kids are a little more equipped to digest information delivered via screens. A study of 171 preschoolers conducted by Deborah Nichols, PhD, the director of the Children’s Media Lab at Purdue University, found that this age group can learn from slow-paced, thoughtfully designed children’s media such as tests of pre-reading skills, alphabet recognition, letter sounds, pattern recognition and matching. 

Even so, the research has found that children across every age group tend to spend upto 2 times more than the recommended screen time for kids. Reason being the lack of alternative options and busy schedules.

Screen time for kids: How much is too much?

If you have little ones at home, then Netflix kids, YouTube for kids, and their likes are most likely your go-to options for edutainment. While all these channels have undoubtedly filtered (and even triple-filtered) the type of content available for children, how convinced are you, as a parent, that it is the best suited learning content for your little one? 

Today a lot of consumable media by children have been curated keeping in mind different social issues and a diversity in population. While there is a lot of care going into the type of content available for little one’s learning needs, free flow platforms often allow for automatic playing of new videos which lends itself to untimed consumption of media. This can result in back-to-back viewing for a longer time period than recommended. 

wonderLearn recommends screen time for children to be broken up into smaller and more digestible periods of time. Along with these small pockets of time, the type of content could be evenly balanced too - for example, a 10 minute, a 30 minute class or cartoon, and a 15 minute song and rhymes or story session. Young learners naturally have a shorter attention span, and this break up will allow them to assimilate the information in a better way. Here’s a better view of recommended screen time for kids:

 

Age Group

Recommended Screen Time

<2 years

If possible, zero screen time, apart from video calls with family members

2 - 3 years

Less than one hour a day, broken into smaller pockets of time

3-6  years

Not more than 2-2.5 hours in a day, broken into smaller pockets of time




Screen time tips for parents 

Now or even before, the control of screen time has been challenging for many reasons. Deciding the appropriate amount of screen time for kids, navigating between different kinds of content available, and how to let your kid know that the time is up, to call out a few!

As a parent, if this is something that you struggle with, don’t worry - you are not alone. Setting limits, boundaries and rules about screen time is one of the most challenging tasks faced by parents in today’s screen-filled environment. 

Here are some ways parents can set boundaries and encourage healthy screen time for their kids.

  • Talk to your little ones: While setting boundaries on screen time for kids, it is important to let your child know why you have set the boundary. An open, honest conversation goes a long way in helping your child understand the need for this limit. 
  • Screen content: Whenever possible, try to screen the content your little one is watching. Try to download the content that you have chosen for your little ones as opposed to letting it play directly from the internet or television - this helps avoid unnecessary ads or interruptions that may not always be child-friendly.
  • Do your research: Check out the app, TV show, cartoon or any content that your little one will be consuming, before they have access to it. Ensure that all the content is age-appropriate in every way possible - language, images, skills required, and duration, to name a few.
  • Lead by example: Children learn through imitation and observation. If they see you reading a book or doing something that you love, they are more likely to spend their time finding a hobby as well. As a bonus, parents also get an opportunity to bond with their little ones over something they love.
  • Encourage their hobbies and interests: Helping your little ones find varied hobbies and interests reduces their dependency on digital content for entertainment or to pass time. There is a range of activity kits available to help your little ones discover their hobbies and talents! 
  • Create a ‘no-screen’ zone: This could be a little challenging, but creating a no-screen zone works wonders in limiting screen time. For example, meal times can be no-screen zones for everyone. This also encourages conversation and bonding for the whole family.
  • Find a good platform for learning aids and tools: To encourage optimal learning, there are existing platforms that have curated age-appropriate games, activities and content for children, keeping the appropriate screen time in mind. This goes a long way in promoting and encouraging productive learning and screen time. 

Bridging the gap between screen time and hands-on learning

The challenge to find the optimal balance between screen time and hands-on learning is something that almost every parent faces. We, at wonderLearn, understand this. Our unique learn at home solutions have been thoughtfully designed to encompass all the needs of our young learners and provide them with an all-round, hands-on learning experience. 

 


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