Toddlers & Technology

Issues surrounding 'screentime' of children

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Whatever happened to free range kids?

Toddlers in our digital age have become enslaved to technology to the point where it is affecting their development. Are these tools expanding kids horizons, or are they constricting them? Are children’s little worlds becoming smaller, or are they becoming bigger? Read further to learn more about the issues surrounding 'Screentime' and children

Evolution of Childhood Toys


What is Screen Time? / eFit2Play

What is Screentime?

The use of electronic media has infiltrated almost every aspect of our daily lives. “Screentime” can be defined as simply the amount of time spent in front of any electronic device. Types of technology used by children include:

  • Television
  • DVD's and Movies
  • Video games ( X box, Playstation, Wii, Nintendo)
  • Toys (leap frog, interactive books)
  • Computer
  • Tablets and MP3 Players ( iPad, iPod)
  • Phones (iPhone, smartphones)
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Fascinating facts & Stats

  • Watching 'free-to-air' TV is the most common kind of media interaction for Australian children under the age of eight. The use of other media forms increases with age
  • In 2009, The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that over 40% of children aged 5-14 watched an average of 20+ hours of television per fortnight. It was also revealed that 40% of children also spent less than 2 hours per fortnight doing informal physical activity, such as: riding a bike, playing a sport
  • The ABS also reported in 2009 that 10% of children aged 5-14 played video games for 20 hours or more on average every fortnight
  • A 2007 Australian study found that 4 year olds watched an average of 2.3 hours of TV on weekdays and 2.2 hours on weekends

According to the 2007 National Australian Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey - South Australian findings:

  • Children of the lowest SES quartile accumulate 30-50 mins more screentime than children of a higher SES. In addition high SES children have 30 min/day more school related time and 20 min/day more sport than low SES children
  • Screentime is the highest in holidays and on weekend. Adolescents spent an extra 100 min/day in front of small screens on weekends and public holidays
  • Boy's accumulate about 40 mins/day more screen time than girls

Other Research shows that:

  • Obese children watch more TV and accumulate more screen time than non-obese children
  • Watching TV for 2hrs per day during childhood and adolescence has been shown to contribute to 17% of adult obesity

How much Screentime for children?

The simple answer is that electronic media should be limited!

Activities such as: active physical play, creative and imaginative play, hands-on fun, and anything that involves relationships and interactions with real people, are vital for a child's development. Although adolescents and adults believe that screens can provide a child with this, the reality is that they don't.

Children under 2 should steer clear of any form of screentime. Children aged 2-5 years should have no more than an hour a day. And children aged 5 -18 years should have no more than 2 hours a day!

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How does Screentime affect a child's development?

Moodiness. Restlessness. Strange cravings. Incoherent speech. An inability to focus on tasks that require concentration. Emotional outbursts. These qualities may be used to describe a person on drugs or trying to quit smoking. Some say they also perfectly express what young children are like after a two hour Disney movie.

Screen time has a powerful effect on children, not to mention adults. Although screentime can have positive effects on a child's development if used in moderation and boundaries are set by parents, it can also have negative affects if used frequently and no boundaries are set by parents

Positive effects on a child's development

Negative effects on a child's development

Why do parents avoid Screentime recommendations?

children are getting frequent access to screens of all kinds from a young age. Why is this the case? Here are a few reasons I've heard from other parents:

Developing healthy Screentime habits:

Developing healthy screen time habits while they’re young will help children and teenagers make better choices about how to use their free time when they’re older.

Like everything else in life, balance is the key. Children need the opportunity to be exposed to a wide range of attitudes and behaviours and they need to experience the world outside of screens, to talk, play, day-dream and to read.

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3 simple steps:

Protect: Monitor and set guidelines on time spent on screens: TV, computer, mobiles and games. Also keep TVs, computers & any other electronic devices in family spaces and out of children’s bedrooms

Educate: Yourself about what they are using, where and for how long, and educate your child on the dangers of the internet and the impact overusing can have on them

Empower: Not only children and young people to balance their lives and limit screen time, but also yourself. Be a good role model towards your children and set screentime limits for also yourself!