Navigating the Digital Age: A Guide to Managing Screen Time for Kids
By KOH XIN JIE RAIYI on 12/01/2023
(Source: TECK WHYE SECONDARY SCHOOL)
Ensuring children have a balanced amount of screen time is an important aspect of parenting in today’s digital age. Especially when electronic devices are becoming an integral part of our life.
Back in 2020, the Ministry of Education started rolling out its National Digital Literacy program and announced that by 2028, all secondary school students will have their own digital device, such as an iPad to equip students to thrive in a digital society and take on the jobs of the future. This indicated that exposing our children to digital devices is unavoidable. Hence, it is important to place emphasis on having a balanced screen time and building a habit to regulate our child’s screen time.
Technology can offer many benefits for learning and entertainment, but excessive screen time can lead to a host of negative effects on children’s physical and mental health and social and emotional development.
- Setting Limits
One of the first steps we can take to ensure that our child has a balanced screen time is to set a limit on the amount of time they can spend on electronic devices. This can be done by setting specific times of the day when they are allowed to use technology, such as after homework is completed or on weekends. We can also create a technology-free zone in our house, such as the bedroom, where screens are not allowed. Additionally, we can also use parental controls to set daily time limits on specific apps or devices, to monitor and limit screen time. It is vital for us to be consistent with these limits and enforce them firmly to ensure that our children have a balanced screen time.
- Model the way
Parents should be role models for their children when it comes to screen time. Children learn by observing the behavior of their parents, so it is crucial for us to set a good example. This includes limiting our screen time, being present and engaged with our child, and not using screens as a distraction or a substitute for parent-child interactions.
- Being Aware
We should also be aware of the type of content that our child is viewing on screens. This includes ensuring that the content is age-appropriate and free of violent or harmful content. We should also make sure that our child is not spending too much time on social media and not engaging in online bullying or other negative behaviors.
Children may not understand the impact of excessive screen time on their physical, emotional, and cognitive development. As parents, we should educate our children about the negative effects of excessive screen time, such as decreased attention spans, difficulty sleeping, and problems with social interaction. It is also important to teach them from a young age how to use screens responsibly, such as how to be safe online and how to protect their personal information. It is important for us to communicate with our children about their screen time. This will not only allow them to understand the importance of balancing screen time but also help us in understanding their perspective on screens and technology.
Ensuring a balance of screen time in a digitally reliant world is essential for a child’s well-being. Parents can set clear boundaries and guidelines, supervise their child’s screen time, model healthy screen time habits, educate their child on the negative effects of excessive screen time, and communicate with their child about the importance of balance. By taking these steps, parents can ensure that their child is using screens in a responsible and healthy way and that they are able to thrive in a digital world.