Screen time for preschoolers – what does the science say?
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Screen time for preschoolers – what does the science say?

Screen time for my preschooler

Dear parents of preschoolers, whether you like it or not, digital devices are not going away anytime soon, especially in this COVID-19 era where studying, working, and playing from home have become the norm. Before the pandemic, preschool children were already spending an average of 3 hours of screen time daily. In fact, internal research by Plano found that screen time in preschoolers has risen by 20% during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In this article, we explore the common misconception that all screen time is bad for children and how instead of worrying too much about children’s overall screen exposure, it is more effective to focus on cultivating healthy and purposeful behaviors in your child to benefit from digital learning experiences. 

What is a ‘safe age’ for children to start being exposed to digital screens? 

For some parents, avoiding all screen time for preschoolers is the ideal solution, but at the same time, they worry that a complete avoidance will cause their child to lose out in today’s tech-driven world. While it’s true that prolonged screen time has been linked with some health consequences such as myopia (short-sightedness), the best solution is perhaps not avoidance, but learning the best eye care practices to help our new generation of children grow up as digital natives in a healthy way.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently released its screen time guidelines for preschoolers (children aged below 5 years). Although the guidelines do not recommend screen time for those aged 1 year and below, those aged 2 to 4 years are allowed a maximum of 1 hour of daily sedentary screen time.

Keep in mind that the important word here is sedentary screen time, which includes activities such as playing mobile or computer games or watching TV shows. This implies that how your child engages with digital screens is an important factor in their health, rather than just counting the minutes and hours.

Now that we’ve managed to address the above misconceptions about screen time, here are some of the ways you can guide your child to better manage their device use.

3 tips to help parents manage their child’s device use

1. Ensure regular eye breaks and good distance while using their devices

Ensure that your child takes regular eye breaks and maintains a sufficient face-to-screen distance (at least 30cm) when using digital devices. Abide by the 20-20-20 rule: Take a break every 20 minutes by looking at an object 20 feet (or 6m) away for 20 seconds. Looking at faraway objects also enables your child’s eyes to relax.

Screen time for my preschooler

2. Encourage good screen placement and settings during screen time 

It is recommended that your child should look at their screens slightly (15 – 20 degrees) below their eye level as this reduces their risk of developing dry eye. Using matte screens may also help reduce the amount of screen glare and changing the monitor settings so that the screen brightness matches that of the surrounding environment also helps to mitigate the effects of digital eye strain in your child.

3. Use parental control apps

Parental control apps can help parents to monitor their child’s device use and can even be used to set regular eye break reminders and ensure that your children are not using their devices too near to their faces. These apps help to be your extra pair of eyes when you are not around your child to ensure that they are adopting good device use behaviours.

What about online learning?

With digital learning becoming more common nowadays, curriculum design and quality content are becoming an even more important factor in ensuring that children reap all the benefits of online learning, without its negative effects. If the programs can be designed in an engaging, bite-sized way that facilitates great memory and retention, this not only creates a great learning experience, but also naturally incorporates the ‘safe and healthy’ elements into the curriculum itself.

For example, in the global Edutech platform LingoAce’s curriculum, children’s eye health, and attention span are given due consideration as each lesson’s duration is kept at 25 minutes. Classes are automatically recorded, and playbacks are available after the lesson for revision anytime and anywhere. After each lesson, your children can take a well-deserved eye break and recharge to better retain the knowledge gained in the lesson! LingoAce also understands the importance of rest from screens and hence allows flexible online booking of classes, to make it convenient for you to arrange a class based on your children’s schedules.

And finally, participate in screen time activities with your children 

Get involved in conversations about your children’s on-screen learning. If a new concept is introduced via online learning, take the opportunity to further explain it to your children if they have problems understanding it from the screen instructors. Furthermore, hone your children’s social skills by encouraging them to make supervised video calls with family or friends.

Screen time for my preschooler

LingoAce Preschool Program offers your preschool child with effective and engaging online Chinese lessons in a gamified form to ensure that your child learns the Chinese language in a fun and fulfilling way. Classes are personalised in accordance with your child’s learning pace with its 1-on-1 class format with experienced teachers. Moreover, LingoAce Preschool Program provides your child with a head start in the primary school curriculum as it covers 70% of Primary 1 Chinese characters and over 25 sentences structures.

For parents who are still unsure if their child is ready to take on Chinese enrichment classes, fret not. A complimentary trial class is provided for all new students of LingoAce. Your preschool child will go through a 25-minute live trial class and parents will receive an assessment report to identify key strengths and areas of improvement. Their experienced course consultants are well-equipped to recommend the most appropriate program to best suit your young learner’s learning needs based on the report.

Sign up your child for a FREE trial today!


This article is sponsored by LingoAce Academy.


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