Whether it’s watching television or playing on an iPad, there are benefits of technology we all enjoy! However, it’s important to set boundaries as screen time comes with its downsides.
Family screen time
It’s not uncommon for most of us to spend a lot of time behind the screen these days. Whether it’s reading on a Kindle or staring at the work computer, there are benefits of technology that keep us screen-bound. And, our culture’s obsession with screen time can have an even more marked impact on children!
A new study of eight to eleven-year-olds indicates that the typical child in this age range is watching 3.6 hours of recreational screen time every day–which nearly twice the recommended limit of two hours. It also indicates that screen time exceeding two hours negatively impacts child cognitive development. So it’s really important to have healthy boundaries in place!
But how do you balance the amount of screen time in your house? Technology can be very helpful for children, but how can you make sure that it doesn’t interfere with their development? Everyone will need to find the right balance for their family, but here are some upsides and downsides to screen time.
What are the benefits of technology?
Whether you’re five or fifty, it’s hard to dispute the fact that we spend a lot of time staring at screens. Fortunately, when it comes to kids, screen time can be educational! From Amazon to Netflix or YouTube Kids, there are many educational programs out there that offer up a different platform for learning.
Screen time doesn’t have to be sedentary, either. There are also many opportunities for physical activity with gaming systems like Nintendo Wii.
Beyond the learning opportunities it offers, internet access can broaden a person’s worldview. It can also allow your children to communicate with classmates and teachers after hours, giving them the tools to learn. Instead of relying on others to provide information, they can seek answers out for themselves! And, by knowing the benefits of technology in early childhood, they won’t be hampered by a lack of familiarity.
What are the undesirable side effects of technology?
Just because the internet and technology offer many benefits, doesn’t mean that we’re just using these tools for educational or fitness purposes. It also doesn’t mean that the screen is the only place to learn!
While certain screen activities offer physical activity, being sedentary one for long periods of time can create negative health effects. Adults may experience body problems with neck and back pain, and children can develop bad posture. Some health experts consider sitting (often while looking at screens) to be the new smoking in terms of the negative physical effects it creates.
Beyond the physical, too much screen time can also create problems with real-life interactions. Instead of having the tools to adapt, children can become isolated and aggressive. It also impairs their brain’s ability to function on important tasks.
Fortunately, beyond the screen, playing on their own or with others can teach them to be both imaginative and empathetic. It’s important to encourage your children to move around, find fun things to do (and you can always get great ideas from FamilyApp) and explore the world around them.
How do you limit your family’s screen time?
When it comes to parenting, it’s important to set a time control for your kids’ screen time. The amount of allowable screen time will vary based on the age of your child. Since 90% of our brains develop by the time we’re five, there’s a different developmental impact on a 2-year old than 8-year-old.
Be vigilant as parents when considering the quality of screen time your child is exposed to. You may also want to set specific times where kids can watch television or play on the computer. Whether it’s 20 minutes a day or 2 hours, stick to it – and do it for yourself as well! Kids learn from our examples as parents.
This will ensure that you’ll all reach for other activities, whether it’s drawings, personal hobbies or being outside. Since it’s not all bad, you may want to set time aside to engage with your children and technology. Whether it’s playing an iPad game or watching a movie together, this can assist with interactions that benefit their development.
With so much screen time in the world, there can be many benefits of technology for you and your children. However, it’s important to watch the screen time spent as there are alternate ways to learn and grow. If you’re currently trying to limit your family’s screen time, share your tips with us in our comments! While the benefits of technology can be great, there are plenty of ways to engage with the world.