Screen time… it’s a cause of much discussion in my household. My mother hates it, my husband doesn’t see a problem with it and I’m somewhere in the middle. My children have screens in their lives, they watch TV, they use an iPad and whisper it… my son plays car racing games on the Xbox with his dad as a Saturday treat.
I am also an advocate of education in my own children’s lives as well as in my business. So can the two sit side by side? And should I feel guilty about allowing my children to have screens in their lives in moderation? Here I’ve looked at some of the reasons why a little bit of screen time and technology might not be too bad after all…
1. Good visual attention
Is it tricky to get your little ones away from their screens? This has a lot do with how preoccupied they are, focusing on the task at hand and what is required of them next. Using technology will equip children to pay more attention to detail (big or small) to complete an activity.
This also helps their motivation, because many apps and games encourage children to complete a level in order to move on to the next one. This sort of learning process may prove beneficial later on in encouraging children to try to overcome the challenges in front of them away from their screens.
2. Discovering a new talent
Using technology may open up some doors for your child and they could discover new skills or even a talent. As parents you will start to learn their interests from how they respond to different activities online. Using technology or apps for writing exercises could kickstart your child’s love of creative writing and stories, or exposing them to different music could unlock their love of singing. You never know!
3. Expressing their creativity
There are many apps that offer a chance for kids to get really creative and most importantly have fun and enjoy their screen time. Photography, music, funny faces, voice recordings and colouring are just some of the types of creative applications on offer for children to get stuck into. Peppa Pig Paintbox is a favourite in our house.
4. Reading and writing
There are lots of eBooks and other educational resources that can be located online which will give your child the opportunity to practise their reading and writing. Many online applications offer pronunciation tasks and are really engaging for kids. Not only do some apps encourage practising words aloud, some are multi-sensory and allow you to draw letters on the screen.
TIP: Still offer the dictionary and encourage your child to look up a word or spelling away from their screens. It will also be beneficial to use physical, fun and educational flash cards for reading and writing practice too.
5. Hand-eye co-ordination skills
By using online applications, children will start to follow objects on their screens and start to engage in their screen activity. This kind of hand-eye coordination is really beneficial as it’s a skill which will be practised a lot at school when they are writing and drawing.
6. Enhances learning
In the simplest sense, once your children have learnt something, the internet doesn’t just leave it at that. Research resources are limitless and can help children enhance and broaden their knowledge about something more than ever before – all in one place, the big wide web!
7. Bonding with family and friends
Modern-day technology gives our children the opportunity to speak to faraway family and friends on video chat. Whether they sing songs together or read stories, this is a special and personal online activity the whole family can benefit from.
8. Preparing for the future
Despite our views on technology and even the ambitions and goals of our children in the future, technology is everywhere and is almost guaranteed to be a part of their career. Getting them used to navigating online will give them a real advantage in their working life. Even before that, some schools are now incorporating screen time as part of their curriculum to support learning.
Are you worried about keeping your children safe when using technology? In our last blog post we looked into how we can keep children safe online.
What does the research say?
While the researchers suggested 'less is more', they didn't recommend cutting it out completely. Instead, they said, it is a good opportunity to make sure children use electronic devices sensibly.
'Our data suggests that between zero and 30 minutes a day is the optimal amount of screen time,' said Professor Mandhane. 'The preschool period is an ideal time for education on healthy relationships with screens.' 'Whilst overuse of the "electronic babysitter" may or may not contribute towards the development of behavioural problems, parents should be mindful of the possibility, and ensure that young children participate in a variety of activities, both on and off screen.'
CLICK HERE to read a recent article on screen time from NHS
CLICK HERE to read recent article from BBC on effects of screen time
By Amelia Cunningham blogger. Click here to visit Amelia's website.