Do you have children? Do they spend a lot of time on front of screens? If both answers are yes and you are not sure how much is too much have a read of this article published by The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne.
My kids are 7 and 9 years old and apart from Tv and computer plus two mobile phones we don’t have any additional screens. I spend time on the computer when I’m working while the kids are at school and they are allowed to watch 1 hour of Tv a day but they don’t often watch every day. We have moved from Melbourne to the country 7 years ago because we wanted our kids to run outside and create their own fun and adventures. I know how easy it is to sit in front of a screen and get sucked into the virtual world. When I used to share in Melbourne many years ago one of my housemates introduced me to Nintendo game. My first session lasted 8 hours and then and there I realised how dangerous it was. I continued playing the game until I finished over the next few weeks but when I moved out I never got onto purchasing games or playing them on the computer.
I also remember watching a short clip on YouTube when my daughter was a toddler and it briefly explained how Tv at that age is not conductive to learning and paying attention later at school.
The problem lies not only with what toddlers are doing while they’re watching TV; it’s what they aren’t doing. Children are programmed to learn from interacting with other people. Facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language between a toddler and parent is not only beautiful, it’s so complex that researchers have to record these interactions on video and slow them down just to see everything that’s going on. Whenever one party in this dance, child or parent, is watching TV, the exchange comes to a halt.
A toddler learns a lot more from banging pans on the floor while you cook dinner than he or she does from watching a screen for the same amount of time, because every now and then the two of you look at each other.
Just having the TV on in the background, even if “no one is watching it,” is enough to delay language development. Normally a parent speaks about 940 words per hour when a toddler is around. With the television on, that number falls by 770! Fewer words means less learning.
Toddlers are also learning to pay attention for prolonged periods, and toddlers who watch more TV are more likely to have problems paying attention at age 7.
So here are the numbers if you don’t want to read the whole article:
- under 2 are getting 14 hours per week
- 2-5 watching 26 hours every week
- 6-12-year-olds are watching 31.5 hours
- 13-18-year-olds are getting an average of 43.6 hours per week
- parents are on screens for almost 40 hours every week
I have found there are plenty of applications out there to help us cut down the time we spend on our phones. I use Digital Wellbeing and I find that it helps me be more conscious about how much browsing I do during the day.