Screen Time: How Much is Too Much?

Are you a parent who has often felt guilty for how much screen time you have permitted your child to consume? I for sure, am one of those parents.

Our son loves his programmes… and I have often felt guilty for the amount of time I have permitted him to sit in front of a screen absorbing fast motioned visuals.

How much is too much?

As someone who is passionate about child development, I did some of my own research into the effects of screen time, soon after our son was born. Some said, screen time led to delayed development in children. Whilst there were also findings that small amounts of screen time were OK and even suggested that interactive screen time could be beneficial i.e., when parents or guardians discuss with the child what is being watched.

I am a strong observer of our son and noticed that Zachariah had a very good attention span from early on and followed storylines and plots. When he was about 7 months old, he would laugh during funny scenes of Peter Rabbit and looked concerned when something mischievous was about to happen. He would watch an entire animated movie from beginning to end before he was 1 years old!

Did I want to remove this enjoyment from him completely? To be honest, there were times when I did and times when I didn’t.

So, whenever Zachariah was watching something on TV, I would make it a point for discussion. We would speak about the characters, the scenes, the colours, the letters, the words, sing the nursery rhymes together etc.

I did this because I wanted him to form in his mind the understanding that screen time was not for mere consumption but could be used as a time to ask questions, stimulation, and an opportunity to learn and develop.

However, I do believe too much screen time can have negative consequences. So, I feel it’s important to observe and know your child. I have noticed that too much screen time can cause children to have selective listening. So, they can become less focused, unresponsive to instructions and conversation.

Warning Signs...

If you are concerned about the impact screen time is having on your child, these are some warning signs to look out for.

1. When children are so absorbed in the screen that they ignore instructions. Pay particular attention to when they become absent minded during non-screen times.

2. When children no longer give you eye contact when speaking to you.

3. When children cry excessively to watch their programmes. You want to avoid any form of addictive behaviour.

4. When children become hyperactive more than usual.

5. When they appear mentally unrested.

6. When they struggle to sleep at night.

7. When they struggle to focus on a practical activity such as drawing, painting, writing, reading etc.