We’ve all heard about ‘screen time’ and with all the talk about reducing screen time, we’ve been conditioned to think of it as something bad. While it’s true that prolonged screen time has been proven to result in some serious consequences such as myopia and even mental health issues, but it’s not all bad!
In fact, screen time is a great way for your little ones to unwind and connect with their peers in today’s digital age. As parents, we can help our kids discern what defines good and bad screen time. By educating them about the right on-screen activities and the appropriate duration they can expend on screen time, you’ll be able to create a positive screen experience for your child.
Mother and son playing the tablet sitting on the carpet
Aside from connecting with loved ones who may be miles apart, there are a variety of other ways your children can use the screens productively. There are a ton of eye-opening, educational content that your child can find on the internet. From National Geographic Kids on YouTube to Disney Nature, your child can watch a myriad of insightful, factual shows that teach them about the world they live in. You could even make this into a family activity where the whole household gathers to watch an episode every evening!
Besides shows and edu-series, there are games out there that are dedicated to encouraging critical and creative thinking. Minecraft is a famous one that pushes kids to interact with the spatial digital environment they are in. Not all games are as brainless as we might have been told to think!
So, the next time your child wants to play a game on his/her device, try sitting down with him/her to understand more about the game that he/she is playing. If it’s an educational game that benefits their cognitive skills, then go for it! If it’s a game that involves mindless bashing, you might want to reel back. Once you have made a decision about the productivity of the game, sit down with your little one and let him/her know your thoughts about it.
By directing your child to such positive and productive on-screen activities, screen time becomes engaging for them.
For us parents, we’re probably well-acquainted with the bad side of screen time. Endless hours spent laughing at nonsensical videos and pointless scrolling through social media are probably some examples that come to mind. Besides the type of content that your child is exposed to, it’s also about the duration of time they spend on screens. Even spending hours on productive, educational games can be bad if it’s impossible to pull your little one away from them.
Research has shown that spending prolonged periods of time on the screen can lead to mental health issues and vision problems like depression and myopia, respectively. While screen time can be used fruitfully, as the saying goes, ‘too much of a good thing can be bad’. At the end of the day, it’s necessary to manage our children’s screen time no matter what they’re using that time on.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), children under 5 should not be exposed to more than 1 hour of screen time. In fact, those under the age of 2 should not even be allowed any screen time at all. For those of you with older children, it’s possible for you to negotiate with them an agreed duration of screen time throughout the day. In order to help your child better manage his/her screen time, you can consider downloading parental control apps like plano.
Plano helps to monitor your child’s device use and reminds your child to take regular breaks from the screens every 30 minutes. As a parent, you can also use the plano app to schedule no-device times. For instance, if your child is not allowed to use his/her phone during dinner time, you can use the plano app to lock his/her device during those hours.
If your child follows these prompts and reminders in the plano app, he/she can earn points! These points can then be used in the plano Shop* to request for device-free activities.
At the end of the day, we care for all our children. It’s important we help them understand the differences between good and bad screen time and the fine line that separates them. Our screens are here to stay and for our little ones growing up in today’s digitalised world, we need to guide them to maintain a responsible relationship between themselves and their devices. After all, we have the power to control our devices and not the other way around.
*Only available to Singapore plano users.