Children start looking at screens from a young age and the time children spend staring at screens is a constant cause of concern for parents.
With children spending more time using tablets, smartphones and laptops, parents are left wondering, ‘how much screen time is too much’?
According to the UK’s leading children’s doctors, spending time looking at screens is not inherently bad for children’s health. Instead, they suggest parents should focus their efforts on making sure their little ones get enough sleep, exercise and time with the family.
New guidelines from experts at University College London (UCL) recognise the benefits of technology, but warn that ‘too much time sitting down or using mobile devices can get in the way of important, healthy activities.’
The amount of time children should spend on a screen has divided opinion. Some industry experts are calling for screen time to be restricted to two hours a day. However, UCL’s guidelines are far less prescriptive. They advise that mealtimes should be screen free, devices are not used by children in their bedrooms and that children should take a break after a couple of hours of sitting down using a screen. In fact, that final point goes for all of us.
The guidelines also recommend that the tech industry should establish a voluntary code of conduct to address how children are safeguarded on their sites.
The guidelines include a series of questions designed to help families make decisions about their screen time.
- Is your family’s screen time under control?
- Does screen use interfere with what your family want to do?
- Does screen use interfere with sleep?
Meanwhile, a study by the University of South Australia has revealed that watching TV has a greater link with obesity compared to other sedentary screen-based activities.
Dr Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “screens are part of modern life.”
He added: “One size doesn’t fit all, parents need to think about what’s useful and helpful for their child.”
Parents need to consider their own use of screens. Setting a good example to your children will help reduce excessive use and promote more quality family time.
At Little Willows, as part of the national curriculum children have access to tablets, along with other IT equipment. We make sure children have the opportunity to try our educational apps and games, create their own digital art pieces, and learn how to use a camera.
However, we are always careful to limit how much time any child spends in front of a screen. After all, there’s so much more to a nursery day!
If you’d like to know more about what we do at Little Willows come and visit our nurseries in Bath and Corsham. We’ll arrange a time and date that’s convenient for you.