How much screen time is too much for kids?

Posted by Jamie Tetsill on

how much screen time is good and bad for kids?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hands up if you’ve been there: you’re working from home and have a Zoom meeting in 5 minutes. You’re also juggling childcare and your options are limited to an hour of unsupervised screen time for your child or pretending to be frozen on the screen as you try to follow slime making instructions to keep your darling child entertained. You’ve just got to hope against hope that the mute button is off when you turn the air blue when the electric blue gloop lands on your carpet, never, ever to be removed….but it smells so good, mummy!

Can we make more?!

Screen time and child development

Personal devices for kids are now more common than not and while screens can entertain and educate, too much screen time could have some unwanted implications. The British Psychological Society warns that,

“Too much screen time for young children can unintentionally cause permanent damage to their still-developing brains. The ability to focus, to concentrate, to lend attention, to sense other people’s attitudes and communicate with them, to build a large vocabulary - all those abilities are harmed.”


Another issue associated with screen time is that it is sedentary time. It’s usually a passive activity but can also cause over stimulation, eye strain, headaches, sleep problems, developmental issues and even depression. In 2021 Harvard Medical School published a report that outlined some helpful guidance on screen time. The report’s author, Claire McCarthy, MD, advises that:

  • Children should not be engaged in online activities or games that aren’t age-appropriate. This may include violent video games. 
  • Screen time shouldn't be getting in the way of sleep. Devices should be charged somewhere besides the bedroom (or on do not disturb mode for teens).
  • Screen time shouldn’t be getting in the way of social interaction. Have screen-free zones, like family meals or other family time. (Yes, that means parents too.)
  • Screen time shouldn’t get in the way of homework. This is complicated by homework involving screens, but many kids are getting distracted by social media and online gaming.

It’s a tough one to get right, and no one has a perfect solution. Screen time is really unavoidable, and while some is not bad, how much screen time is too much for kids?

Screen time limits for children

There is no hard and fast guidance on what is too much screen time for kids, but therapist.com offers the following advice:


How much screen time should children aged 0-5 have?

Infants and children under the age of 18 months should have the least amount of screen time out of any age group, in favour of play and learning activities that help support their developing minds and bodies. For children between two and five years of age, limit screen time to one hour per day.


How much screen time should children aged 5-10 have?

Primary school children should spend no more than two hours a day looking at screens outside of school. It’s best to encourage other activities and make sure that homework is completed before they indulge in screen time after school hours.


How much screen time should children aged 10-15 have?

Children in this age range should be limited to about two hours of screen time outside of school. Parents can also start giving children at this age more control over their own screen time. You can do your part by helping them understand when they’ve reached their limit and the negative effects of excessive screen time.


You can set limits on screen time on Android and iPhones and The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) has created an online tool to help you create a family media plan


How to control screen time on Android devices

How to control screen time on Android devices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google set up a new website called families.google in 2021 which aims to help parents teach children to be safer online, set up parental controls and search for quality age-appropriate content. 

Using Google's parental controls app, Family Link, parents can keep a close eye on screen time and help children make healthy decisions about what they do on their device.


How to control screen time on Apple devices

How to control screen time on Apple devices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple has a similar app called Screen Time which lets you know how much time you and your kids spend on apps, websites, and more. This way, you can make more informed decisions about how you use your devices, and set limits if you'd like to.


How to set up Screen Time on an Apple device (iPhone/iPad):

  1. Turn on Screen Time
  2. Go to Settings > Screen Time.
  3. Tap Turn On Screen Time.
  4. Tap Continue.
  5. Select This is My [device] or This is My Child's [device].

After you turn on Screen Time, you'll see a report showing how you use your device, apps, and websites. If it's your child's device, you can set up Screen Time and create settings on their device or you can use Family Sharing to configure your child’s device from your device. After you set up your child’s device, you can also use Family Sharing to see reports and adjust settings from your device.


It can feel overwhelming, but for children growing up today, technology and screen time is everywhere. It can be how some children connect with their friends and make new ones. It can be how they are educated and develop their curiosity. Some parents may decide to deny screen time altogether.

Whatever your approach, it's up to you and what you believe is best for your child. Screen time can be a useful tool when you need time. All you need is a plan and settings in place to ensure that your child’s experience is safe, age-appropriate, entertaining and perhaps educational.

Parenting and screen time

If there was training to be a parent, it would have to include a Masters in juggling and PhDs in plate spinning, lion taming, and fire breathing. No one has parenting figured out. It’s easy to feel inferior with the ‘Parenting? Completed it, mate’ parent at the school gates. I’d recommend watching Motherland on BBC iPlayer to make yourself feel better if you’ve ever encountered this species of parent.

Parenting is a journey and we’re all just doing our best, but sometimes we need some ideas to get through the day as we work, care for our children, and manage our households. So instead of running off to the circus to live your best life on a flying trapeze, at iPOPkits we’ve put together five mess free screen time alternatives for kids to do at home so they can develop their independence, confidence, resilience and creativity! 

Practical ideas for things to do with kids

Board games

playing bored games with children

There are thousands of options, but some stand the test of time better than others. Monopoly is an obvious choice, but this can take hours and some children (and adults) might lose interest due to the slow pace. Scattergories board game is a great, fast paced game that keeps you on your toes. The object is to try to outwit other teams by coming up with unique answers. You choose a category card, then roll the large 20-sided die and see which letter shows up. Race against the timer to think of answers for each category that begin with the letter on the die.

This game is great for any age and can be a great travel game too. 100% would recommend. Find this popular board game here on Amazon

Playing cards

playing card games to help bored kids

A cost effective way to entertain children and adults alike is playing card games. From Snap! to Rummey and Scabby Queen to Chase the Ace, playing cards is a great way to educate, entertain and make connections with others.

Little hands can struggle to hold hands of cards, so check out these card holders that help to include younger children.

 

Building a bug hotel

A great way to get kids interested in nature and inspire their creativity is building a bug hotel. Everything needed can be found in a garden or green space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A great way to get kids interested in nature and inspire their creativity is building a bug hotel. Everything needed can be found in a garden or green space. When they have finished building their hotel, they will have fun checking on who has moved in! If you are looking for a kit to get started quickly, Amazon has this ‘Make your own garden bug hotel’ kit for just over ten pounds.

 

Colouring in

Ideas for kids to do on a rainy day colouring in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The traditional colouring in book has had a makeover and is now available as a super size option. Kids can colour in together or on their own.

Find a selection of giant colouring in sheets on Etsy here.

iPOPkits! 

We’ve saved the best ‘til last! We’re biased, but for good reason! Our mess free fashion design kits are built for kids aged between 3 and 11. Using shapes and a canvas, kids are able to work unsupervised to create their own pattern or follow a template. They feel a sense of accomplishment when their design is fixed in place (with a bit of adult help) and they can wear or show their POPPING creation.

Find our designs in the iPOPkits shop here!


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