Though it’s hard to find silver linings in a year as gloomy as 2020, one entity that reaped considerable gains, courtesy the call to stay indoors, is the online media and entertainment sector. Stuck inside their homes, people of all ages – young, middle-aged and old – are resorting to the online medium to the pass the considerable amount of time they have in their hands, through smartphones, laptops and televisions. Yet overdose of any activity or product never has positive consequences, and thus parents need to ensure that they regulate their screen time as well as their children’s screen time. For that, we need to differentiate between good and screen time, both in terms of content and duration.
Glancing first at content regulation, it goes without saying that it’s of prime importance to block your child from being exposed to any form of content that might not be appropriate for his/her age. These include sleazy adult content, exceedingly violent depictions and even depressing showcases. It would be best to accompany your child while he watches any form of digital media, but since it’s not possible to indulge in 24/7 supervision, install child safety filters on all electronic devices in the house, and regularly check their browser history.
You might argue that it’s fine for them to discover the ills of life to fulfill their curiosity and be aware of the world outside, but it needs to be understood that prolonged exposure to a particular genre, say violence, can bring about negative behavioral changes in your child. Thus, the safe option, especially for young kids, is to be exposed to good screen time. They can learn about the ills of the world when they are a little older and better equipped mentally to handle it maturely. Good screen time includes content that is educational, informative, inspirational, promotes social awareness, etc and will certainly stimulate your child’s mind, making him aware of values and life skills.
Coming to duration, too much exposure to digital screens can lead to negative consequences not only for your child but also for you. Exceeding normal screen time limits can damage eyesight as well as cause fatigue, both physical and mental. Your child might gain an unhealthy amount of weight, suffer from irregular sleeping schedules, and also become anti-social. Thus, it’s necessary to set time restrictions and include ample off-screen breaks during the day. For children aged between 2-5, good screen time would be one hour at max. For older children, three to four hours should be the norm. As for adults, though it would depend on the kind of occupation that you are involved in, anything above six hours is usually considered abnormal. If a significant amount of screen-time is part of your job, take appropriate precautionary measures such as installing a computer screen guard.
It’s important to have fun, no one’s telling you and your kids to stop looking at screens. Just ensure that the content is suitable, and the duration not too long.
Stay Tuned, Stay Relevant!