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In a world where screens seamlessly integrate into every aspect of our lives, as a parent, finding the right balance for your child’s screen time can be a bit of a challenge. While screens open doors to incredible learning opportunities, it is crucial to navigate their usage to avoid potential drawbacks in your child’s development.

Today, we will explore five practical tips to help you strike that perfect balance, allowing your child to reap the benefits of screen time, while also steering clear of its potential pitfalls.

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Unveiling the downsides: why excessive screen time is not ideal for children

There are many reasons why too much screen time is bad for children. Here are a few key points worth noting: 

1. They become less engaged with the real world

Screen time is typically passive for children, demanding minimal interaction beyond the content displayed. In stark contrast to activities like playing with peers, this passivity may hinder the development of essential physical skills, limiting opportunities for hands-on engagement with the immediate environment.

2. They have fewer opportunities to develop social skills 

Social skills are an integral part of a child’s developmental journey, flourishing through practical experience. However, when children are immersed in a screen, they miss out on chances to hone these skills through face-to-face interactions with their peers. The screen then becomes a barrier to the organic growth of social abilities. 

3. They may develop problems with focusing 

Excessive screen exposure can contribute to challenges in maintaining focus and a potentially shortened attention span. The fast-paced nature of much of our media content, with rapid transitions between topics or scenes, conditions children to expect constant change. This, in turn, may result in children with difficulties focusing or maintaining attention for extended periods as compared to their peers with a more balanced screen time.

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How to Limit Your Child’s Screen Time

Navigating the delicate balance of screen time for your child requires thoughtful consideration, especially when factoring in age-related nuances. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides valuable guidelines tailored to different age groups:

  • Below 18 months: None at all, except for video chatting
  • 18-24 months: Limited to educational programming with a caregiver
  • 2-5 years: Non-educational screen time limited to 1 hour per weekday and 3 hours per weekend day
  • 6 and up: Limited as necessary

Drawing a clear line between educational and non-educational screen time is important. The former is meaningful as it adds to children’s knowledge and even helps them grow. At Star Learners, we leverage screen time purposefully, creating meaningful learning experiences. For instance, when explaining complex phenomena like volcanic eruptions, we use videos to enhance understanding, providing a level of engagement that visual aids simply cannot match.

Try these simple guidelines for limiting screen time for your child without depriving them of the positive impact of technology:

1

Lead by example: recognise that children model behaviour

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Children are keen observers and tend to mimic what they see. Put your screens away when spending time together to set the stage for them to adopt similar habits. Be the role model they can emulate!

2

Create device-free zones: remember that out of sight is often out of mind

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Make it easy for both you and your child by keeping screens out of reach. Designate specific areas at home as device-free zones, creating an environment where screens take a backseat, allowing for genuine connections to take place.

3

Collaborative rule-setting: discuss screen time rules and guidelines

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Try engaging your child in the process of setting screen time rules — it will be like creating a game plan together! This way, they get to understand why limits matter and feel more in charge instead of being restricted. Talk openly about balance, nurturing their responsibility and sense of control in a fun, collaborative way.

4

Offline fun takes centre stage: show children that offline activities are just as (if not more) fun

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Create opportunities for non-screen time fun and entertainment! Introduce board games, arcade-style setups, mini-golfing, park exploration and even pool outings as enticing alternatives to screen time, emphasising the richness of non-digital experiences.

5

Foster social bonds: prioritise real-life interactions

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Make it easy for both you and your child by keeping screens out of reach. Designate specific areas at home as device-free zones, creating an environment where screens take a backseat, allowing for genuine connections to take place.

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Ensure that your child’s screen time is meaningful, even outside of home

Embarking on the journey to limit your child’s screen time might seem like an uphill task initially, but it is a crucial step to safeguarding their development from the potential pitfalls of excessive screen exposure.

While screens can easily sneak into a child’s world beyond the confines of home, fret not, as there are practical measures you can take, including selecting a preschool like Star Learners that prioritises purposeful screen time only for educational purposes.

Curious to explore more? Register your interest for a virtual tour at any of our 43 Star Learners centres island-wide and take the next step in fostering a balanced and meaningful screen time experience for your child.

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