For most of us, digital media is a normal part of our daily lives. We use it to learn and to entertain ourselves…we even use it to communicate with each other. Children are early adopters and if your kids are like most, they’ll navigate their way around a new app before breakfast is even finished.
So, how much time is too much time for our children?
There’s a lot of suggestions on what the limitations should be, so as a parent, how do you achieve the right amount of usage, to maintain a happy balanced individual and household?
A recent conference in San Francisco hosted by the American Academy of Paediatrics brought 10,000 paediatricians together to discuss new children’s health recommendations for 2017. Children’s screen time, social media and cyberbullying were key points of interest.
The recommended screen time has always been a general 2 hours per day, but with kids being surrounded by different devices, TV, computers and mobile devices all day, defining what was considered screen time was difficult to measure, especially with the introduction of computers and tablets within a school system.
ELANATION Parent Interview.
Parents within the Elanation community can already see the benefits that the ETURBO and the Elanation App have made on their children. “What I really love about Elanation is the energy system. If my kids don’t have virtual energy from exercising in their day then they can’t play within the Elanation Virtual World and unlock the sporting tips from videos. This has made a huge impact on how they view exercise and play” – Parent.
“It doesn’t make sense to make a blanket statement [of two hours] of screen time anymore,” said Dr. Yolanda Reid Chassiakos, lead author of the “Children and Adolescents and Digital Media Technical Report” and assistant professor at UCLA. “For some children, two hours may be too much.”
So in ascertaining a measurement, the AAP identified new screen time rules as time spent using digital media for entertainment purposes. Other uses of media, such as online homework, don’t count as screen time.
Recommended Internet usage for Children 5 – 12 years:
For healthy kids, an average day includes “school, homework time, at least one hour of physical activity, social contact and sleep, which is anywhere from eight to twelve hours for kids,” said Chassiakos. “Whatever’s left over can be screen time.”
The academy agrees that digital media should never replace healthy activities, particularly sleep, social interaction and physical activity. In the press release, Dr. Jenny Radesky stated, “What’s most important is that parents be their child’s ‘media mentor.’ That means teaching them how to use it as a tool to create, connect and learn.”
“The environment of media has changed today,” Chassiakos said. Many aspects of digital media are positive: it can be interactive; it facilitates communication; it allows people to create. Kids often view school notes and do homework through a screen”, she said.
However, parents have to talk to kids, about the risks of digital media and the reasoning behind why 13+ age restrictions are in place. (more on this topic in next week’s Elanation blog.)
“Even though the media landscape is constantly changing, some of the same parenting rules apply,” Chassiakos wrote in the academy’s press release. “Parents play an important role in helping children navigate the media environment, just as they help them learn how to behave off-line.”
Tips for parents for healthy digital media use:
- Parents are children’s main role models, so it’s important for mums and dads to have healthy digital media habits. This means being conscious of setting down mobile phones, turning off the TV and shutting laptops at night.
- “Young children can tell when their parents’ heads are always in their mobiles,” Chassiakos said. The lack of attention from a parent can make “kids’ levels of irritable behaviour worse.”
- The academy recommends that families designate “media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms,” according to the release.
- With phones off the dinner table, families can have in-person conversations, which are very important for children’s development. Parents benefit from media-free practices, too. Face-to-face interactions with family creates more intimate bonds, and tech-free bedrooms can promote better sleep, Chassiakos explained.
- Keeping tech devices out of bedrooms is also a good way to monitor kids’ digital media activity. Chassiakos recommends having children use computers in the living room, for example, to ensure they finish any online homework assignments before using entertainment media.
How ELANATION can help:
Elanation’s philosophy is to encourage a healthy physical-digital play experience so children learn how to balance their daily physical- digital habits. How we do this is through our power system. Children move outside in the real world, and they are rewarded with online play including social, entertainment and safe community relationship building.
For the recommended daily step-count achieved, children gain around 20-30 mins screen time within our safe online community. This can be spent exploring and building within our game worlds, opening video content from professional athletes, checking out the daily leaderboards and safe chatting with your friends (which is done by emoji’s, stickers and sending a predetermined step count to a friend). This social connection is to provide a positive line of communication for children to participate in that doesn’t focus on bullying, but instead it’s about building confidence in each other.