It seems like everywhere we turn, we are surrounded by screens. Most of us rely on our digital devices to function on a daily basis, and our smartphones are usually the first thing we reach for upon waking up. We are immersed in the digital world from morning till night. As adults, we may not always be conscious of the adverse effects of being “always connected”, but we should definitely be aware of the importance of setting digital limits for our children.
According to the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS), children exposed to excessive screen time may experience developmental and emotional issues as a result. Some of the associated risks faced by children who spend too much time behind a screen are:
- Problems with focus and attention
- Language delays
- Reduced parent-child connection
The CPS guidelines below are a good starting point for parents to consider.
Parents can positively influence their children’s behaviour with technology by setting an example of what a positive relationship with technology looks like.
Under two years of age
Children under the age of two should receive no screen time according the CPS. In this period of a child’s life, it is crucial for them to form a strong bond with their parents and technology can act as a distraction. The sounds and activity can be overstimulating for infants which can cause anxiety and lack of sleep.
2 to 5 years of age
One hour a day of quality educational time is considered safe for toddlers and up to the age of 5. In order to make the most of the digital program consumed, parents can view or interact alongside their child to help them better understand what they are observing.
6 and older
It’s important to continue to monitor and set limits on digital media as children get older. Understanding that technology has benefits if used wisely is noteworthy, but excessive use can interfere with sleep, relationship building, and forming addictive behaviours towards technology.
To keep in mind
- Parents can positively influence their children’s behaviour with technology by setting an example of what a positive relationship with technology looks like.
- Determine technology-free time throughout the day.
- Turn off the television and put away digital devices when interacting with another person.
- Teach children online etiquette and respect.