The World Health Organization Released Guidelines for Screen Time for Kids – It’s Time for Parents to Follow Through
We live in a digital age that rolls out a constant barrage of interesting content. From funny cat memes to epic multi-player Fortnite battles, the digital world is immensely fun and equally addictive.
As a responsible parent, you need to limit the screen time your kids are exposing themselves to.
What is screen time? It’s the total number of hours someone spends on smartphones, tablets, computers, and watching TV.
How Much Screen Time Should Kids Have?
According to WHO screen time guidelines, parents should not subject their kids one year of age to any screens. WHO’s screen time guidelines for preschoolers recommend that parents should not allow their 2-year-olds more than an hour per day of screen time. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who is the Director-General at the World Health Organization said that childhood is when the kids experience “rapid development” and this is the time to develop healthy lifestyle patterns. The centre is the time to set healthy schedules to ensure kids have a normal sleep pattern and they get a daily dose of exercise. WHO also recommends non-screen-based activities such as solving puzzles and reading to ensure proper mental and cognitive development.
Why It’s Important to Restrict Screen Time?
Screens Restrict Social Skills
A study conducted at Barnard University’s toddler centre compared how kids behave in a group setting with or without iPads. At first, they provided a group of randomly selected kids with iPads. The children not only showed little interest in interacting with each other but when their names were called, they ignored the calls. They remained distracted and ignored their surroundings. The centre confiscated the iPads and gave the kids traditional toys with which to play. They started to communicate with each other and started developing their social skills. The Director of Barnard’s Center for Toddler Development, Dr Tovah Klein, who conducted this study, said that hours of screen time can cause behavioural problems. She also discourages parents from using iPads and smartphones as a pacifying mechanism.
It May Lead to Obesity
One reason for WHO‘s screen time guidelines 2019 is to reduce the cases of childhood obesity. Being on iPhones and iPads do not require physical activity and thus can lead to obesity down the road. For all the time a child spends watching a screen, it takes precious and essential hours out of their playtime. Therefore, experts recommend restricting screen time to less than an hour for kids 1 to 4 years of age and encourage them to indulge in good old-fashioned games and physical activities with other kids. Little things such as not allowing kids to have TVs in their rooms and confiscating all screened devices after certain hours can make a big difference.
Extensive Screen Time May Cause Behavioural Issues
The thing about iPads and other such devices is that they are highly addictive. Kids addicted to hours of screen time may revolt and show their discontent by throwing temper tantrums if you take these devices away from them. It’s important for parents to stay strong and not use phones and tablets to keep their kids pacified while they get on with their lives. If they do, kids end up realizing that these tantrums are effective in getting what they want. Suddenly, it’s not just phones. They use the tantrum tactic to get out of doing chores, doing their homework, and other essential activities.
Screens Can Hamper Sleep Cycles
One thing that experts recommend is taking away phones and tablets before bedtime. The addictive nature of smartphones and the treasure trove of interesting content may hamper your child’s sleep cycle. You should encourage your children to go to bed at certain hours so they wake up refreshed to take on the next day of activities. A sleep-deprived child, not only experiences performance and learning issues sleep-deprived but they also risk developing an unhealthy sleep habit.
Being Subjected to Inappropriate Content
The Internet is full of violent videos and overtly sexualized content. While adults understand the difference between media and real life, kids rarely make that distinction. That’s why you often see kids with unrestricted access behaving inappropriately or being violent with other kids. Therefore, it is important for parents to control what their kids are watching. There are several apps and services that can help parents monitor and restrict access to inappropriate content on the Internet.
Do you notice a difference in your child’s behaviour when they are on the screen? Let us know in the comments below.