Preschool screen time – how much is too much?

Charlotte Thompson, 09 Jul 2018

While time spent on and around screens is inevitable in this day and age, it’s important to understand how and why to limit kids’ exposure to them.

For pre-school children (those between the ages of two and five), the recommended limits are stricter than you might think.

When to switch off

 The Australian recommendations for children between two and five years old are no more than one hour of screen time per day. This includes computers, iPads, phones, games and television.

While it might be rare for your toddler or pre-schooler to sit down for an hour to do anything, remember that this is cumulative. So, the 15 pre-dawn minutes where you cave and let them watch YouTube on your phone in order to get another few moments of shuteye before the day begins, combined with the TV show you put on while you’re getting dinner ready, all add up.

Good screen time and bad screen time

The other thing to be aware of is that not all screens are created equal. A high-quality educational video that helps with literacy or numeracy is obviously a far better use of your child’s screen time allocation than letting them sit up and watch whatever you’re watching.

Likewise, playing a game on an iPad (with your help) that assists with their learning can be incredibly valuable, versus allowing them to use a mindless app unsupervised.

How to curb excessive screen time

If you’re worried screen time has got a bit out of hand at your place, there are several ways in which you can bring things back into balance. Firstly, stop any use of screen time as a pacifier for bad behaviour.

If children begin to associate it as a soothing distraction, they will become less and less able to regulate emotions without it. Similarly, make sure the time your kids do spend with screens is interactive.

Watch with them, talk about what you’re learning, and make sure their exposure is to quality, rather than quantity visual entertainment.

At Young Academics we are passionate about encouraging your child’s creativity through active play. Read more about how we do that here.

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