Growing up in the Digital Age

Screentime



In today's society children are growing up in a digital age where technology is continually evolving and becoming more accessible. When technology is used appropriately it can be valuable to a child's learning.

What is screetime?

  • Screentime is (as the name suggests) time spent in front of a screen. This can be anything from watching TV, to doing research on a computer.
  • Other forms of screentime include the use of video games, tablets, mobile phones etc.

Facts and Statistics

  • Over 40% of children aged 5-14 watch an average of 20+ hours of television per fortnight
  • A child's risk of being overweight increased by six percent for every hour of television watched per day (this percentage increases by thirty-one for every hour watched if the child has a TV in their bedroom)
  • A 2007 study found that four year olds watched approximately 2 hours of television per day (this amount has most probably increased)

Pros and cons of screentime

If used correctly, technology can be very beneficial to a child's development. There are many educational apps and programmes that can teach a child many advantageous skills (some of which include counting, reading, spelling etc.). Interactive activities can aid a child's cognitive development and improve their fine motor skills. By using technology from a young age, children will be prepared for later on where technology will become a large part of their lives.


However, there are some disadvantages to spending to much time in front of a screen. If a child has a computer/TV/tablet in their room (or somewhere you can not monitor them) it is impossible for you to be watching what they're doing at all times and so a child could stumble upon something they are not meant to see. This could emotionally effect the child, especially if the child knows they were not meant to see it, and decide to keep it to themselves. Studies have also shown that children who have more screentime are more likely to be overweight and have antisocial behaviour.

Recommendations

  • It is recommended that aged 5-18 accumulate no more than 2 hours of screen time a day for entertainment (this excludes educational purposes because when doing something educational their minds are being stimulated)

  • Guidelines for children under 5 years old recommend children younger than 2 years do not spend anytime viewing TV or other electronic media and for children 2-5 years less than 1 hour per day



These guidelines are in place to ensure that a child stays healthy, not only physically but also mentally.

Some parents:

  • May not enforce these guidelines as they see technology as a way to occupy their child if they are busy or just too lazy to entertain them
  • Believe that a child should be able to spend their free time however they like
  • Think that as long as a child isn't watching anything violent or rude then it is okay
  • Underestimate the child's knowledge and how well they can use technology


These things can be overcome by setting boundaries and making sure the child is monitored when using technology. Parents should ensure that technology used is interactive and encourage engagement rather than non-interactive to avoid overexposure to screentime.