Screen Time for Young Children: Striking a Balance

by | May 15, 2013 | Child Development, Parenting, Research | 0 comments

My young children use my iPhone and iPad

Ok, so I am going to admit right now that my 18 month and almost 3-year-old children watch television, play on my iPhone and use the iPad most days of the week. My first-born child could unlock and navigate my iPhone by the time she was one. My second child gets as close as she can to the television and snorts as soon as the intro music for Peppa Pig comes on.  Yes, I am aware that television viewing is discouraged for under 2’s and that it is yet unknown how the use of mobile devices might affect young children’s brains (or ours for that matter).  But when it gets to the end of the day and dinner has to be made or when we are out shopping and my toddler is throwing a tantrum, technology is nothing short of lifesaving. That said I limit the amount of screen time to which my children are exposed – fifteen minutes or less on the iPhone or iPad and no more than 2 hours of television per day.

Why should screen time for young children be limited?

The more exposure young children have to screens, the more they want. As those of you who check Facebook on your phone regularly may realise, digital technology is addictive. Behavioural research has shown that that the more time young children spend with screens, the more they watch later on, and the more difficulty they have turning off screens as they become older. UK psychologist Dr Aric Sigman believes that a generation of children is developing a lifelong habit and in some cases dependency on small screens because of over-exposure in childhood.

Extensive screen time is linked to a host of problems for children including childhood obesity, sleep disturbance, and learning, attention, and social problems. A 2004 study in the American journal Pediatrics showed an association between children who watched TV between the ages of one and three years and decreased attention spans at age seven.

2 toddlers touching tablet screen

To date, research tells us that screen time has no real educational benefits for infants and toddlers.  Time with screens also takes away from other activities known to be more beneficial to children’s growth and development such as hands-on creative play, music time, physically active play, time in nature and interactions with other children and adults.

Providing a balance between screen time and active play

This being said, research has not proven direct link between screen time and health risks. Until such evidence exists, the best thing we parents can do is to use our judgement to strike a balance for our families.  As long as children are spending plenty of time engaged in other types of play, then there is a place for technology. After all we live in a digital world, in which literacy no longer simply means reading and writing.

Join my 8 session program of 100+ music activities for you and bub for only $5/month.

I sing and demonstrate the actions. You’ll soon be singing along, sharing smiles and giggles with baby and feeling great for playing an active role in your baby’s development.

Sarah Richard-Preston

I'm Sarah Richard-Preston, creator and presenter of The Bubble Box - a program of music activities for you to share with your baby. I demonstrate the activities through streaming videos, right here on The Bubble Box website. I'm a qualified teacher with 13 years experience in early childhood education and I am passionate about music and the developmental benefits music promotes. Join me online in my 8 session music program today to give your baby's development a boost and make the most of precious baby time.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest