Screen time involves interacting with any type of screen and includes watching television, playing a video game, chatting with friends on social media or using a smartphone or a tablet.
Technology and digital experiences are very much a part of family life. Most days both children and adults will spend at least some time interacting with a digital screen. It’s fun and can be beneficial, but too much could negatively affect a child’s mental and physical wellbeing and focus.
Every child is unique, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s important to remember that not all screen time is bad. Helping your child understand the difference between active and passive screen time will empower them to make good decisions about how to self-regulate their time online. For example, chatting with family far away or being actively engaged in a video game can be a positive, rewarding experience and is very different to passively scrolling through online videos.
Talk to your child about how they spend their time online and what they enjoy most. As you chat, you can start to introduce topics such as why it’s good to have a balanced approach and the importance of taking regular breaks. You might want to create a screen-time plan together, to help strike a healthy balance for your child.
Screen time can be a way to strengthen family bonds and your child’s social connections, so why not get involved in their digital life? Find games you can play together, learn a dance together online, or encourage them to connect with friends and family who live far away.
Online activities can often inspire offline family activities, such as interest in a sport they’ve never played or taking an interest in an animal they saw online.
If you’re concerned that too much screen time is having a negative impact on your child, for example if it’s affecting their schoolwork, their mood or physical wellbeing, then it might be worth speaking to a counsellor or a medical professional for advice. As grown-ups, it’s also good to reflect on how much time we ourselves spend on screens and to set a good example by following the family agreements we make with our children.
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