With media becoming more prevalent today, we may find ourselves increasingly tapping on it as teaching aids or even to buy some time for ourselves. From Youtube videos to Online learning apps, we have a wide range of media use at our disposal. However, while screen time does have its benefits, it is important to pay attention to the type of online resources we select for our children. In this blog post, we delve into the details on how to make screen time both useful and fun for your child!
Screen time, when used appropriately, allows your child to enhance their imagination and engage in immersive learning.
However, moderation is key and it is important to be aware of the amount of screen time that should be allocated to children. To address this concern, the American Association of Paediatrics (AAP) has put in place screen time recommendations by age. Particularly, for children aged 2-3 onwards, they should have only 1 hour of media use per day. It is important to restrict the screen time that your child receives, to avoid negative effects on the child’s development.
Here’s a rough guide for the screen time your child can receive, based on their age:
0 to 18 Months
Minimal viewing of screens
2-5 years old
1 hour of screen time
Screen time with time limits
Now that you are aware of the appropriate amount of screen time, here are three other tips on how you can approach screen time with your child!
1. Schedule in screen breaks
As adults, we know that it is important to step away from our devices every now and then to prevent eye fatigue. The same goes for children! It is important for your child to have regular screen breaks so that they have ample time to rest their eyes and have physical movement.
So how can we protect our child’s eyes during screen time? The 20-20-20 rule says that for every 20 minutes you look at a screen, you should view something that is 20 feet away (approximately 6 meters) for 20 seconds. You can set a timer, such that your child gets a screen break for every 20 minutes of screen time, or you can vary the interval depending on your needs.
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2. Filter resources for your child
With a vast pool of online resources, it is important to pick resources that are both child-appropriate and developmentally appropriate. Previewing the resources before showing them to your child ensures that the materials are indeed beneficial for your child’s learning.
Some differentiating factors include:
- Educational vs Entertainment
- Ensuring the content is not too fast-paced/too exciting
- Violence should not be part of the media selected
Further, it is important to note that some online resources may be more useful than others in aiding your child’s development. Open-ended apps such as HOMER are specially designed for learning digitally in the early years, and particularly useful if you are letting your child engage in independent screen time. These apps provide your child a role to play in the program, thus allowing them to be significantly engaged.
3. Prompt discussions about the media your child is interacting with
To interact with your child and prompt them to think about what they have viewed, ask them some questions! This ensures that your child is engaged with the media that they are viewing, thus preventing passive learning!
Here are some simple closed-ended questions to get the conversation going:
- Which one is a... (vegetable)?
- What is a...?
- Where is the...？
Pro-tip: Always try to ask your child open-ended (instead of close-ended, e.g., yes/no) questions to encourage sustained thinking:
- Tell me more...
- Tell me what's happening here?
- I wonder what happens if...
- What will happen next?
Also, do remember that children learn through repetition, so feel free to repeat the concepts brought up in the media afterwards. Doing so allows your child to retain the information that they have learnt, thus value-adding to their learning!
Moderation is key to protecting your child's eyes! With appropriate breaks and duration, we can leverage on aspects of learning that are enabled by technology via screen time, such as through showing them how things work.
Hawkey, E. (2019). Media use in childhood: Evidence-based recommendations for caregivers. Retrieved 7th January from https://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/newsletter/2019/05/media-use-childhood
Martinelli, K. (n.d). Can Screen Time Be Educational for Toddlers? Retrieved 7th January from https://childmind.org/article/value-screen-time-toddlers-preschoolers/
Nall, R. (2018). Does the 20-20-20 rule prevent eye strain? Retrieved 7th January from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321536
State of Victoria (Department of Education and Training). (2019). Discussions and investigations to develop literacy. Retrieved 7th January from https://www.education.vic.gov.au/childhood/professionals/learning/ecliteracy/interactingwithothers/Pages/discussionsandinvestigations.aspx