Growing up in the Digital Age

CHILD STUDIES - ROSE AL-BAYATI

What exactly is screen-time and what sort of screens are used?

Screen-time is a word used for any sort of activity that doesn’t include proper physical or cognitive development (eg. outdoor play or reading). These sorts of activities include TV, computer games or playing on an Xbox (video games). These types of activities are sitting activities, therefore you are being inactive and using little to no energy.

Recent statistics

The Active Healthy Kids Australia Report Card states "Sport is not enough". Participation in sport does not necessarily mean that children and young people meet the recommended levels of physical activity. We also need to encourage physical activity through everyday activities.

Kids and teens aged from five to 18 years need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day to keep healthy, as well as activities that strengthen muscle and bone on at least 3 days of the week.

The 2014 Active Healthy Kids Australia Report Card rated Australian kids D- for Overall Physical Activity Levels.

92% of students aged 12-17 years watched television, used the internet, or played computer games for more than two hours a day.

Nearly half of children aged between 5 and 15 years spend more than 2 hours every day on ‘small screen’ entertainment.

Some forms of physical activity include

Screen-time use with young children

Negatives:
- A child’s early years growing, their brains develop rapidly and children develop best by interacting with other people rather than screens. Constantly having their heads down onto their devices may harm their cognitive development.


- Screens are often used by parents/carers to distract their child, although parents may not know the negative impacts this may have on their child, this can in fact have long term effects such as impeding their language, social and emotional developments. (eg. Ways to empathise, connecting with others).

- Children should be exploring their environment and not getting their stimulation from screen-time.

- Children will develop better with objects they can touch rather than what they see on a two dimensional screen. Exploring materials in three dimensions improves their cognitive development.


Positives:
- When children enter early education (kindergarten) they are expected to know how to use technology, to develop your child's knowledge about these concepts, you should sit with your child and supervise them whilst teaching them how to use technology.

- As technology is going to be around when your child goes to school, it is mandatory to let them explore their digital devices at an early age.

- Technology can be a fun way to send information into your child's brain, for example a reading book. Although a three dimensional book is more influential, a book on the iPad that reads aloud is fun and creative.

- Smartphones can also be a tool used to improve a child's social development, for example skyping/facetiming with family and friends allows your child to keep in touch.

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RECOMMENDATIONS OF SUGGESTED SCREENTIME

Screen time recommendations are very simple. Children that are 2 and under should under no circumstances have ANY screen time. Children that are 2-5 years of age should ONLY have 1 hour a day and children between the ages of 5-18 should have 2 hours of screen time ONLY.

Why are these recommendations in place?

These recommendations are in place for a number of reasons as screen time affects a child's learning developments for example:

Cognitive Development;
- Their school ability is affected as they rely heavily on technology therefore resulting in lower grades.

- Children will have a much shorter attention span and will not be able to focus properly.

Mental Health;
- Children in extreme cases could lead to being diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression, this is due to the fact that they are not social enough and constantly rely on screen time to 'cheer them up'.

- Children can be addicted to online gaming and this encourages poor well-being.

Physical Health;
- This is a dramatic effect when it comes to sleep, children will be more tired througout the day and their sleeping cycle will be extremely complicated and unhealthy.

- Children who constantly stay on technology and don't partake in physical activities can eventually lead them to obesity as they are constantly eating and not moving around. This can lead to long term and permanent effects such as Diabetes.

Social & Emotional Development;
- Constantly playing video games will encourage a child's aggression as most games include violence and this can be mentally disturbing. Children may also want to recreate these actions as they do not understand the difference between realistic and fake.

Why may parents not stick to these recommendations and what strategies could they use to overcome these barriers?

Many parents have different views as to why they believe 'screen-time restrictions' are a waste of time. Studies show that parents really only have 3 main reasons as to why they don't have any limited times for their child and their use of technology.

1. They believe it's genuinely important for their child to explore different things using an iPad.

2. They believe their child will be 'tech-savvy' as they get older.

3. The main important reason is simply to keep their child entertained until they finish their daily house chores.

Although all these reasons seem to intertwine together, parents don't really understand the negative effects these unrestricted screen-times have against their child. Parents aren't fully aware of the different strategies they can use rather than distracting their child with a smartphone. These include;

- To distract your child, instead of giving them an iPad, try interacting with them or send them to do 1 step instructed chores around the house for you.

- If you believe that a 2 dimensional device will increase your child's learning, give them an activity book, a colouring or reading book or play educational games with them.

- If your child throws a tantrum for not getting to watch TV, find an alternative or try any of these steps above, you could also simply ignore them until they learn their lesson. Giving them what they want will only make your situation more difficult.

- If you use technology as a 'babysitter', try actually hiring a nanny or taking your child to play groups with other children.