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What is the WOH recommendation on screentime?

n today’s digital age, screen time has become an integral part of children’s lives. From educational apps to entertaining videos, screens offer a world of information and engagement. However, it’s crucial to recognize that prolonged screen time can have significant impacts on children’s behavior and sleep. In this article, we’ll delve into the effects of excessive screen use, understand the recommendations set forth by experts, and explore practical ways to strike a healthy balance.

Also check out our extensive guide about Responsible Use Of Social Media For Children.

The Negative Impacts of Excessive Screen Time

Research has revealed a concerning link between prolonged screen time and negative effects on children’s behavior and sleep. The repercussions are multifaceted:

1. Behavior and Social Skills

Excessive screen time has been associated with heightened symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Beyond that, it can impede the development of crucial social skills and communication abilities. When children spend more time engrossed in screens, they miss out on face-to-face interactions that foster empathy, effective communication, and conflict resolution. The consequence? A potential decline in social skills that are vital for building healthy relationships throughout life.

2. Sleep Disruption

The blue light emitted by screens poses a significant challenge to sleep quality. Melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep, is sensitive to this light. Prolonged exposure to screens, especially before bedtime, can interfere with melatonin production, leading to difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep. Inadequate sleep not only affects children’s mood and cognitive abilities but also impacts their overall growth and development.

3. Physical Health

An excess of screen time often translates into a sedentary lifestyle. Physical activity takes a backseat, paving the way for a range of health issues. Obesity, poor posture, and eye strain are among the potential consequences. Additionally, disrupted sleep patterns contribute to a cascade of health concerns, underscoring the importance of addressing screen time as part of a holistic approach to children’s well-being.

4. Cognitive Development

While screens can offer educational content, excessive exposure can hinder cognitive development. The ability to focus, retain information, and engage in critical thinking can all be compromised. It’s crucial to strike a balance between screen-based learning and other forms of intellectual stimulation that promote holistic cognitive growth.

5. Mental Health

The impact of excessive screen time on mental health is a growing concern. Overstimulation of the brain and the allure of constant digital engagement can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and social isolation. Children might find it challenging to regulate their emotions and behavior due to the hyperactive nature of screen-related activities.

Expert Recommendations for Screen Time

Recognizing the potential pitfalls of screen time, The American Academy of Pediatrics offers guidelines to steer children toward healthier habits:

From 18 to 24 months: It’s recommended to restrict screen time to educational programming, with the presence of a caregiver.
For children aged 2-5 years: Limit screen time to 1-2 hours per day.
For children aged 6 years and older: Aim for no more than 2 hours of screen time daily.

Moreover, establishing a consistent bedtime routine that involves disconnecting from screens at least an hour before sleep can help facilitate melatonin production, leading to better sleep quality.

Striking a Balance: Practical Tips

Designated Screen Time: Set designated periods for screen time to ensure a balanced routine that includes physical activity, social interaction, and other enriching experiences.

Tech-Free Zones: Designate certain areas in the house as tech-free zones, such as the dining room or bedrooms, to encourage face-to-face interactions and relaxation.

Outdoor Play: Prioritize outdoor playtime, which not only boosts physical health but also fosters creativity and problem-solving skills.

Parental Role Modeling: Parents should lead by example and demonstrate healthy screen habits themselves.

Educational Content: Encourage children to engage with high-quality educational content that sparks curiosity and critical thinking.

Mindful Bedtime Routine: Create a calming bedtime routine that involves non-screen activities like reading, storytelling, or gentle stretches.

In conclusion, screens are here to stay, but their impact on children’s behavior and sleep warrants mindful consideration. By adhering to expert recommendations and implementing practical strategies, we can help children navigate the digital landscape while fostering healthy development in all aspects of their lives.

 

Information from : https://wohum.org/the-effects-of-screen-time-on-childrens-behavior-and-sleep/?gad_source=1&gclid=CjwKCAiA_OetBhAtEiwAPTeQZ4ZmNIJyGzA5retbFZr2wKfQXSfaix3gjBpNRuaVfS0NeafVr3t4zRoCnZwQAvD_BwE

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How to choose the TV or screen content for children?

Selecting and using appropriate programs for children involves several steps focused on ensuring the content is beneficial, age-appropriate, and aligns with your family’s values and educational goals. Here are some strategies to help you choose and use appropriate programs:

1 Research and Select High-Quality Content

  •      Educational Value: Look for programs with clear learning goals that are age-appropriate and support developmental skills such as language, problem-solving, and social-emotional learning.
  •      Reviews and Recommendations: Use reputable sources to find reviews and recommendations. Organizations like Common Sense Media provide detailed reviews of TV shows, apps, and games, focusing on educational content and age appropriateness.
  •      Preview Content: content should not be to loud, or the images should move slowly, sometimes it is easier to use old cartoons or films. It is difficult for children under 6 years old to follow the images + sounds. 
  • Encourage slow program. 
  1. Engage in Co-viewing or Co-playing
  •      Shared Media Use: Watch shows or play apps/games together with your child. This not only allows you to monitor the content but also to interact with your child about what they are seeing and learning.
  •      Ask Questions: Encourage your child to think critically about what they watch by asking questions about the content, characters, and the story. This helps develop comprehension and analytical skills.
  1. Set Limits and Create a Balanced Media Diet
  •      Screen Time Limits: Follow guidelines for age-appropriate screen time and ensure that digital media use does not displace sleep, physical activity, or offline play.
  •      Variety: Ensure that your child’s media exposure includes a wide range of content types, including educational programs, stories that inspire creativity, and content that promotes physical activity.
  1. Use Parental Controls and Settings
  •      Safe Viewing Settings: Use parental controls to filter content, set time limits, and ensure that your child is only accessing appropriate programs.
  •      Customize Experience: Many apps and platforms allow customization to suit educational goals and age levels, ensuring that your child is presented with the most suitable content.
  1. Foster a Media-Literate Environment
  •      Discuss Media: Have regular discussions about the content your child consumes, including the difference between fiction and reality, advertising, and online safety.
  •      Encourage Creation: Encourage your child to create their own content, such as drawing a picture of their favorite character or telling their own stories, to foster creativity and critical thinking.
  1. Be a Role Model
  •      Model Behavior: Demonstrate healthy media habits by being mindful of your own screen time, especially in front of your children, and engage in media-free activities as a family.

 

By taking these steps, you can help ensure that screen time is a positive and enriching part of your child’s development. Remember, the goal is not just to limit exposure to harmful content but to actively promote experiences that are educational, interactive, and socially enriching.

 

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What do we know about screen time?

Excessive screen time in small children has been associated with various concerns, including potential impacts on cognitive development, sleep patterns, and social skills.

It’s generally recommended to limit screen time for young children and encourage activities that promote physical, social, and cognitive development. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests no screen time for children under 18 months, except for video chatting, and limited, high-quality programming for children aged 18 to 24 months.

For older children, consistent guidelines and balance between screen time and other activities are advised to support healthy development.

 What the studies are saying?

Surveys and studies on children’s screen time provide insights into patterns, effects, and parental attitudes, reflecting a complex picture that varies by region, socioeconomic status, and individual family values.

Key findings from various surveys up until my last update in April 2023 include:

      1.    Increased Screen Time: There has been a noticeable increase in screen time among children, particularly accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many activities online—from schooling to socializing.

      2.    Parental Concerns: Many parents express concerns about their children’s screen time, worried about potential negative impacts on physical health, sleep, and social skills. However, parents also recognize the educational and social benefits that appropriate screen content can provide

      3.    Variation by Age: Screen time tends to increase with age. While infants and toddlers might have very limited exposure, often under parental control, older children and teenagers spend significantly more time on screens, partly due to educational needs and social interactions.

      4.    Impact on Health and Development: Surveys often point to concerns among health professionals about the correlation between excessive screen time and issues like obesity, sleep disturbances, and delays in cognitive and social-emotional development.

      5.    Digital Divide: Surveys also highlight a digital divide, where children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds might either lack access to quality digital content and devices or might spend more time on screens due to less access to alternative recreational and educational activities.

      6.    Parental Management Strategies: Many surveys explore how parents manage screen time, with findings indicating a wide range of approaches, from strict limits and content control to more liberal attitudes, often influenced by the parents’ own screen habits.

      7.    Educational Content vs. Entertainment: There’s a notable distinction in perceptions about screen time that is educational versus purely for entertainment. Parents and educators tend to value screen time that is interactive and educational more positively.

 

It’s important to note that recommendations and attitudes towards children’s screen time are continually evolving as more research becomes available. Experts generally agree on the importance of a balanced approach, encouraging physical activity, face-to-face social interactions, and offline hobbies alongside moderated and meaningful screen use.

Is TV better than screen ? 

The question of whether watching TV is better than using other screens (like smartphones, tablets, or computers) for small children can be complex, largely because the impact depends on content, context, and the way the screen time is managed rather than the type of screen itself. Here are some considerations:

      1.    Content Quality: High-quality, educational content designed for children’s developmental stages can be beneficial on any screen. The key is choosing programs that are age-appropriate and encourage learning, creativity, and interaction.

      2.    Engagement Level: Interactive screen time, such as educational apps or games that stimulate thinking and problem-solving, might offer more developmental benefits than passive TV watching. However, excessive use of interactive screens without breaks can lead to issues like eye strain and decreased physical activity.

      3.    Social Interaction: Watching TV can sometimes be a more social activity if family members watch together and discuss the content. In contrast, the use of tablets or smartphones often tends to be solitary, which might not provide the same social learning opportunities.

      4.    Screen Time Management: Regardless of the screen type, how screen time is managed is crucial. Setting limits, ensuring breaks, and encouraging other activities are important strategies. The context—such as whether the screen time is replacing physical activity or sleep—matters significantly.

      5.    Accessibility and Control: TVs are usually located in common household areas, making it easier for parents to monitor content and viewing time. Handheld devices, on the other hand, can be used anywhere, which might make it more challenging for parents to oversee use.

 Ultimately, the debate isn’t just about TV vs. other screens; it’s more about ensuring that screen time is balanced, age-appropriate, and doesn’t interfere with a child’s sleep, physical activity, and other essential developmental activities. Encouraging active participation, setting clear boundaries, and fostering a diverse range of experiences are key factors in mitigating the potential negative impacts of screen time.

 

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