by Deb Tasi-Cordtz

Screentime - how much is too much?

Increasingly children are using screens more and more in their daily lives. As a parent, it can be really tricky to know how much is too much and how to keep children safe on the internet especially as they get older.

Below is an excerpt taken from an article by Karen Campbell who is a Child Behaviour Specialist.  

Too much screen time can cause difficulty with processing and regulating emotions, decision-making skills and the ability to focus one’s attention. This, in turn, will have an impact on how children learn and make friendships. So for these reasons here are some tips to help you manage screen time in your home.
  • Start Early with Screen Time Boundaries. If kids know that there are rules about screen time from a very young age, then this will make life so much easier for you and them when they get older as screen time rules are part of the ‘norm’ in your home.
  • As your child gets older no more than two hours a day is a healthy guideline. Of course, there may be some exceptions, but kids need to be out in nature as well, learning social skills by having friends and playing sports.
  • Have ‘no screen time’ times in the day. This might be around the dinner table or while we are eating, an hour before bed (screens can disrupt melatonin), when someone is visiting etc…
  • Digital Literacy is important. Having screen time use restricted to ‘family areas’ is a good way for you to monitor internet use. Make it a ‘thing’ where you can share some internet funny clips. Engage with your kids on what might not be reality and that not everything on the internet should be believed.
  • Remember there are parental controls out there – you are the BOSS, and you make the decisions… not your kids. If you believe your child is not using the internet safely or is having too much screen time, use the OFF button on WiFi.
  • You need to be a role model as well – too much screen time for Mum and Dad takes valuable time away from you and your kids and it communicates a message that being glued to our screens is ok.
  • Have Fun with screens – dancing with Tik Tok or laughing at YouTube funny clips can be a way of connecting with your kids.
  • Screens aren’t ‘bad’ and they can be a great learning tool. It is about getting the balance right and with anything in life ‘too much of a good thing’ can lead to problems.

Another useful website is the Netsafe NZ website, this article explains the effects of screentime and some tips and tricks for at home.