Is Screen Time Beneficial for Young Children?
Media exposure has become a regular part of our routine for adults, teens and now more than ever young children. The digital age is certainly here to stay, but we must be aware of the possible benefits and drawbacks that media and screen time may contribute in the development of young children; especially those under the age of 5. Children in this age group are in the prime age to develop habits and healthy routines. We examine how to promote healthy development in various age groups during this new modern childhood.
First and foremost, young children are primarily influenced by their own family lives. So, your screen time habits directly impact that of your little ones. Young children may passively watch the shows that caregivers watch on television and then not engage in play, interaction with peers or even have a disrupted sleep.
On the other hand, there are no direct negative consequences between child screen time and the psychological well being of young children. However, children as young as 6months old do have the capacity to mimic and remember brief sequences from the digital content they engage with, whether educational or not. Additionally, media distracts from quality parenting and physical activity.
The way that young children interact with the various screens and media in their lives can also hold benefits.
- Age appropriate programs with specific educational goals help with early literacy goals for children
- Quality programs also fosters aspects of cognitive development
- Interactive media can also help children retain taught information
Some steps to take to promote healthy development in a digital world:
Minimize screen time:
- Screen time for children younger than 2 years is not recommended.
- For children 2 to 5 years, limit routine or regular screen time to less than 1 hour per day.
- Maintain daily ‘screen-free’ times,
- Avoid screens for at least 1 hour before bedtime
Reduce the risks associated with screen time:
- Be present and engaged when screens are used and, whenever possible, co-view with children.
- Be aware of content and prioritize educational, age-appropriate and interactive programming.
- Encourage questions from little ones based on the media they interact with
Finally, as mentioned previously, it is crucial that adults model heathy screen time use. Care givers should promote physical activity and hands on actives that directly aid cognitive development such as reading, solving problems, puzzle building and crafting.