It’s no secret that with today’s advancing and integrative technology, the children of today or, rather, the toddlers of today, are incredibly quick to ‘interact’ with and crave screen time.

‘Screen time’ is understood to be the amount of time spent using a technological device such as a computer, mobile phone, tablet, TV or games console.

The dilemma that parents of today face has to do with allowing, encouraging, monitoring or confiscating screen time from their little ones, with health and mental development problems and benefits giving weight to each argument.

Hopefully, this article will help you decide whether you are for or against screen time!

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‘Screen time’ is understood to be the amount of time spent using a technological device such as a computer, mobile phone, tablet, TV or games console

The advantages of access to TV and technology

Contrary to what some parents may believe, there are many advantages to allowing your child some screen time. Emphasis on ‘some’.

Educational: There are so many kids TV programmes and friendly apps that are educational for a young child and can start teaching them simple concepts before they go to school. They prove to be great resources in academic and personal situations.

Relationships: With the use of Skype and other online video messaging, children are able to acknowledge family relationships with relatives who live far away and don’t visit often. Surely you wish that, as a child, you were able to see your grandparents more often?

Coordination: Certain games require extra thought and visual processing in order to increase a child’s coordination and reaction skills.

Creative: With the almost limitless possibilities that come with technology, there are platforms for your kids to do everything from making music to drawing – and you won’t have to worry about getting koki on the walls!

Directional: This is the way that the world is progressing and it’s important that your child has a fair chance to adapt to the times and benefit from technological offerings.

The disadvantages of access to TV and technology

Naturally, too much of anything is bad for you and the same goes for screen time. Notice that there are only disadvantages in ‘too much’ screen time and not in ‘some’ screen time for kids, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you and how you want to raise your children.

Here is where you need to consider how much screen time is appropriate for your little one. Mainly, when it has an effect on:

Sleep: A lack of sleep is to be expected when a child is overstimulated by technology. This is a problem, because children generally require 10 to 12 hours of sleep to help with their development and growth. Having devices in the room affects the sleeping pattern of both children and adults.

Physical health: Too much screen time leads to lazy and immobile behaviour, where your child just sits all day and only exercises their eyeballs and fingers. Many children struggle with obesity and lack of muscle tone as a result of this passive activity. Even though there are devices and apps that require movement, as a solution to this problem, it isn’t the same as physically playing outside in the open air.

Also, how many people do you know who play Wii while sitting on the couch? The answer is too many, and kids will be the first to find shortcuts.

Social skills: Another issue with too much screen time is the amazing ability to communicate with technology, but the loss of ability to naturally carry on a conversation in person, face-to-face. Affected social skills may lead to problems at school when your children eventually get there.

Aggression: Violence is the norm in games and movies these days. Being desensitised by constant exposure to and participation in violence in video games may lead to an aggressive disposition in your child’s behaviour.

The reality

You cannot deny the role of technology in everyone’s lives, no matter what age. And the reality is that your children are likely to be growing up into a heavily digital and automated world and you don’t want your child to fall behind. Don’t be scared to send your child to computer courses at a young age and maybe even be encouraged to take one yourself. See where it can help you as an adult (which it can).

There are educational and stimulating programs and applications to which you can expose your child. But if you’re turning them to the screen as a convenient way to keep them busy, then you shouldn’t be surprised if they have a problem switching it off.

Monitor screen time from the word go and make sure your child enjoys – and is active in – extra mural sports and outdoor activities. It isn’t difficult to find a balance: you just need to be strict and consistent about it.