How Much Screen Time Is Too Much for Your Child?

Mom watching an iPad and caring for her two children

A few decades ago, the amount of time a child spent in front of a screen depended largely on how much television they watched. But as technology has evolved, the number of screens our children are exposed to has increased substantially. Anyone who has been involved with Perth child care over the past few years will tell you that the little ones under their care are spending more time at home in front of screens than ever.

 

First, we started seeing televisions crop up in more rooms of the house, and then they were hooked up to DVD players, video game consoles and other accessories. Handheld video games and media players allowed us to take those screens on the road. Then, of course, there are the ever-proliferating computer screens that are used for everything from research and homework to chatting with friends and playing games.

 

And we haven’t even gotten started yet with the surge in screen time brought about by the smartphone revolution.

 

As one of the leading child care centres in Perth, we’ve seen first-hand just how concerned parents are with finding the right balance of screen time for their children. Parents know that too much screen time can do permanent damage to their young ones’ brains. But at the same time, it’s inevitable (and potentially even beneficial) for children to spend some time working with screen devices.

 

Here are some guidelines for limiting screen time at home:

 

  • Establish Rules that Strive for Balance
    When it comes to developing healthy screen habits, it really all comes down to balance. A health child’s life will have a wide range of activities lined up – family time, play time, outdoor activities, reading, homework, chores, gaming and TV time and more. It’s important that you communicate with your children about when and where each activity type is permitted or expected.

    You might even want to consider creating a weekly schedule with guidelines. This is often more effective than, say, limiting a child to 90 minutes of screen time per day – which ignores the fact that some days (like rainy days) lend themselves better to screen time, whilst a slow TV Tuesday wouldn’t be worth wasting 90 minutes on.

 

  • Take Tech off the Table in Certain Scenarios
    Part of striking a balance between screen time and so-called real life involves laying ground rules. It’s important for families to set aside certain slices of life strictly for in-person interactions. For example, many families insist that the dinner table is not a place for smartphones or tablets. That’s a non-negotiable requirement for sitting down to eat with the family. But you may also consider extending this rule to other scenarios, such as homework sessions and bedtime.

 

  • Be a Screen Time Role Model in Your Household
    Your children are watching you – and they’re often your greatest critics. If you limit the amount of time they can spend in front of a screen without adhering to these rules yourself, they’re not going to take the rule seriously. Be a role model and set an example by sticking to the ground rules you lay down.

 

At Little Peoples Place, we understand that children require supervision and guidance when it comes to incorporating technology into their lives. We believe that the best day care centres in Perth should be careful in allowing and monitoring screen time, and we work closely with parents to ensure that our ground rules are in keeping with those established at home. Read up on our child care philosophy to learn more.