Today’s parents often worry about the effect of screen time on their children. As a result, they always ask whether it is okay for their young ones to watch television or spend some time on the screen. Although there are many alarming reports on how television affects children’s growth, studies have shown that several infants and toddlers regularly watch TV programs, videos, and DVDs.
The American Academy of Paediatrics (APP) recommends that television should be discouraged for children below 18 months, and screen time should be limited to 1 hour for those over two years. In the publication, they highlighted the harms that TV watching could do to their children.
How TV Affects Your Child?
Children below age two need social interaction with their parents to develop social-emotional, language, and cognitive skills. However, evidence suggests that watching television can get in the way of interacting or playing with their care giver, thereby impeding the development of their brain.
There are also concerns about how TV affects the lifestyle of these children, and in turn, their health. For example, a study on children aged two years linked higher TV watching time with higher BMI and obesity. Similarly, research showed that infants who spend more time on television sleep for lesser hours at night than those who are not exposed to screen media.
In addition, digital media can show children content relating to alcohol, sexual behaviour, drug use and more, before they are mentally ready to understand and make informed decisions about these issues.
Lastly, more time on TV means less time for learning activities, play, social interaction, exercise, and more.
What Can Parents Do?
You should help your child avoid watching TV or spending time on the screen if they are below age 2. However, for children above two years, you can help them by limiting their screen time to 1 hour until they are five. Furthermore, choose the programs they watch to ensure they aren’t exposed to things that may harm them.
What’s more, watching these programs with your child and talking about the good and bad sides can increase their ability to learn. Also, don’t assume all cartoons are safe, help your child choose the ones to watch, as some might contain violence.
Most importantly, encourage your child to engage in other non-screen activities like playing, singing, visiting friends, reading, exercising, home cleaning, and more. You can also use tools like the Family Media Plan, developed by APP, to help your child make wise TV or screen media choices.
Do your kids spend time on the TV or other screen media? Please, let us know what you feel about TV and children in the comment section.