Children’s screen time – How harmful is it?
Simon Jary (8.2.2017) has written an article about screen time and the possible harms that come with it. Jary writes a lot about Aric Sigman’s thoughts and interpretations about children and screen time. Aric Sigman is a psychologist and his research covers the autonomic nervous system.
There are parents who believe that technology and different devices are useful for children’s development. But there are also parents who believe that technology is harmful for children and that children should not use any devices at all. In his article, Jary notes that it is more important to pay attention to where and how screen time is used. It might not be essential how much time children spend in front of different screens, but how they use that time. A lot of parents admit that they often let their children play with tablets and other devices so that they won’t get bored or so that parents can do chores while children are playing. This is, of course, totally understandable in the middle of a busy day. Children do need entertainment and a break from the daily grind, but in limited amounts, of course.
Is all screen time harmful?
A study made in Great Britain revealed that children aged 2-12 years spent almost 17 hours a week in front of different screens. It was almost double the time these children spent outside playing. The problem with technology and screen time starts when all these devices take control of children’s lives. It is important to remember that no game or device can ever replace human interaction or the time spent with one’s family. When children are given devices and games because they are bored or because they can’t come up with something else to do, that’s when we can talk about harmful screen time for children. A good rule to remember is that screen time should not exceed two hours per day. Sigman believes that educational games are better screen time than games that are just for entertainment.
Rules for screen time can already be decided with small children, even though parents’ have the responsibility to set the limits. Screen time should not replace interaction with parents and siblings, and it should not replace the whole play time either. It is good to remember that it can be good to feel bored at times. It supports creativity.