Screentime and online safety
Children are now spending twice as much time using a screen than they did 15 years ago. On average some research suggests that children spend 3 hours a day in front of a screen.
Impact on speech and language
A study in Canada reported that in young children between 0-2 years extended screen time caused some degree of speech and language delay and sleep disturbance. However they do agree more research needs to be done on the impact of I-pads and smartphones as most of this research is based on television screen time.
Impact on learning and socialising
Many parents believe that children learn from a variety games and apps; however the Royal Society of Paediatrics and Child Health suggest it is not about the harm that these games and screen time may do but the other interactions young children may miss out on when staring at a screen.
A child being taken for a walk or sitting on the bus and looking at a screen will miss out on looking at cars and buses, trees, flowers and birds, people watching and engaging with the world around them.
How many times have you smiled at a child being wheeled by you in a pram or waved at them in a café? All these interactions and stimulation of the child’s curiosity of the world around them are lost when looking at a phone or I pad, you and the world are far more interesting and stimulating for a child.
Impact on physical activity
Screen time also encourages a more sedentary lifestyle, getting out to play in the park and beginning to engage you child in enjoying physical activities is a good model for the future.
Further reading from the Royal Society of Paediatrics and Child Health
The health impacts of screentime
Screen time parent factsheet
What do children and young people think about screen time?
Children will not need any encouragement to use tablets, the internet and social media. Most people now understand and are aware of the many dangers of children having access to a wide variety of unpleasant material and influences online.
The NSPCC have some really useful information on how to protect your child by setting safeguards and helping you to understand how to support them in this potentially dangerous influence as they get older.