Screen time for children is an increasing public health issue, with potential links to increased obesity, sleep problems, and effects on social and learning skills. To help parents the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has published their first ever guidelines .
The RCPCH suggests that parents adjust their child’s screen time based on their developmental age and individual needs.
- children aged 2-5 years should have no more than one hour a day of screen time with adults watching or playing with them
- children aged 6 years and older should have consistent limits on the time they spend on electronic media and the types of media they use
Here are 4 tips to help you find, and maintain, those consistent limits that children need.
1 – Be a role model. You have to lead by example. Not only will this make it easier to implement with your children, you’ll also reap the benefits yourself. Idly scrolling through Facebook or Instagram instead of being engaged with your children, or while you’re telling them not to, is going to undermine your authority.
2 – Have screen free spaces. These can be physical spaces, like certain rooms in the house, or certain times, like the two hours before bedtime. They can be a mixture as well, like no screens at meal times, no matter where they’re eaten.
3 – Differentiate between screen time with a purpose, and without. Remember that using screens and devices can be directed and useful – time spent researching homework, learning a new skill from YouTube, or reading an e-book are qualitatively different from games and social media.
4 – Don’t use screen time to drive behaviour. It might be tempting to offer screen time as a reward, or to deny it as a punishment. However, in the long term these both make screen time more attractive, and actually increase it.
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