If children use technology in the appropriate environments and with the correct supervision and monitoring, children can benefit greatly from interaction with technology. However, it’s important that children understand how to use technology in healthy amounts.
- By the age of seven the average child will have spent a full year of 24-hour days watching recreational screen media (Dr Aric Sigman).
- In a survey with 1000 British mothers it was found that 85% of parents have used technology to keep their children entertained (Jary S, 2015).
- 30% of parents worry that their children do not spend enough time playing outside. The AO.com survey found that children are spending on average around 17 hours a week in front of a screen – almost double that 8.8 weekly hours spent on playing outside (AO.com).
So, how should I establish screen time rules? How much time should our children spend in front of a screen? …Let’s find out what the experts say!
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that:
- Children should not be exposed to media before they are 18 months old, and then only under strict supervision.
- Children aged two to five shouldn’t have more than an hour of screen use a day. Content should be age-appropriate and high quality.
- School-aged children and older should balance media use with other healthy behaviour and should have consistent screen time limits and variation of the type of devices that they use.
And – did you know?
“The French government has banned digital terrestrial TV aimed at all children under three, while Australia and Canada have similar recommendations and guidelines” – Jary S, 2015
“Taiwanese parents are now legally obliged to monitor their children’s screen time and stop their children from spending too much time on electronic devices” – Lee Seok Kwai, 2015
Do not fret! It’s not all that bad! If children use technology in the appropriate environments and with the correct supervision and monitoring, children can benefit greatly from interaction with technology. There are proven benefits such as hand eye coordination, access to a wealth of information, improvement of language skills and problem skills (Will Earp, UK Safer Internet Centre).
However, it’s important that children understand how to use technology in healthy amounts. Here are some of our top tips on how to establish screen time healthy habits that you can share with your pupils’ parents or with your own family:
- Healthy exposure. Set and minimise screen time but explain to your children the reasons for doing so.
- Find some of the latest tech-savvy apps that will help you limit screen time for children. Here are a few to check out: Screen Limit, Net Nanny and SPACE
- Make sure children take frequent screen breaks. Professor Larry Rosen from the University of California State recommends a limit of 40 minutes followed by an hour break for children under 10.
- Keep children off screens before bedtime to minimise sleep disruption.
- Set no-go technology zones! For example, the ground floor in your house could be set as the only place you and your children can use technology – upstairs is a no-go zone for screens!
- Introduce the concept of a digital diet! Set the date, and as a family set yourself the challenge and stick to your proposed digital diet.
- Talk to other parents – what works for them and their children?
- Use technology as positive reinforcement rather than negative. AO.com found that almost 1 in 3 parents confiscate technology devices as a punishment for bad behaviour. Turn this around! Doodle recently spoke to one parent whom explained how she uses Doodle stars to reward her children – every star earned on Doodle is one minute added to the pot of ‘golden time’ where the children can choose a fun activity to do with their family.
- Be the perfect role model for your children! If you have banished screen time over dinner, make sure you stick to the rules too.
- Find alternatives! Get your children to write 10 things they love to do that do not involve using a screen. Kick a ball around, to cook their favourite cake or to simply read a book. When the screen-time-craving tantrums commence, the list will come in very handy.
How to minimise screen time risk whilst maximising the opportunity with Doodle
The little-and-often approach is central to how Doodle works. Doodle promotes healthy usage through features that reward effort and consistent engagement over ability. Children should aim to earn a few stars per day, rather than bingeing on Doodle and earning over 1000+ in short term use, which is over the recommended use of screen time for children. Our in-app streak feature further promotes healthy screen time usage and daily engagement by measuring how many days in a row children use Doodle.
If you are planning on using Doodle for daily practice, we recommend children spend no more than 10 – 15 minutes per day, and the same again for Doodle Times Tables.
Using Doodle as a homework resource means you may add extra tasks for pupils, which will require children to spend more time in-app. We recommend you set no more than two added extras per day as children may also want to complete their X-a-day. Children should use Doodle Times Tables for 10 – 15 minutes per day.
Using Doodle as a classroom resource means you may add extra tasks for pupils, which will require children to spend more time in-app. We recommend you set no more than two added extras per day.
Children can benefit greatly from interaction with technology when using it in healthy amounts. It’s time to create healthy habits with technology and Doodle!
Article by Laura Young-Santos