And just about that, this global health crisis has changed the world to something we didn't see coming. Living rooms and even dining rooms are now turned into instant offices and classrooms. School assignments are handed-out online. People are inclined to do cashless transactions. We turn to the internet to source information and entertainment as the world remains in lockdown. With no end in sight, occupational therapy and speech therapy sessions have also started to transition from center-based therapy to teletherapy. But this is still not the light at the end of the tunnel as it is a cause of worry for parents of children with special needs. This new medium, as they see it, can only prolong kids' screen time. Since technology-based learning is still untested waters for most of us, it's not surprising that many are still scratching their heads. What is screen time? Screen time refers to the amount of time spent using a device with a screen such as a smartphone, computer, television, or video game console (Wikipedia). You've probably been warned by your child's Developmental Pediatrician or Speech and Occupational Therapists to limit screen time due to its potentially harmful effects on growing children.
How screen time benefits children?
Screen time can be both risky and beneficial to neurotypical children and children with special needs. Some mobile phone applications allow users to be actively engaged while other apps are just passive, not allowing interactions. But, if you take time to scour the internet, you can find a bunch of mobile phone applications that even professionals make use of to help children with autism improve their communication skills. These apps come in handy in enhancing child engagement, information retention, and encourage self-initiated learning.
FACT: Exposure to television, laptop, and mobile phones solely for educational purposes is not harmful. Well-designed television shows can improve cognitive, literacy, and social outcomes for children 3 to 5 years of age, the American Academy of Pediatrics cited. Screen time only becomes unhealthy and damaging to the brain if children are using these gadgets excessively, aimlessly, and without adult supervision.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggested the following:
- No screen time for children under 18 -24 months old except video chatting.
- In children older than 2-5 years, limit media to one hour or less of high-quality programming. Parents should watch together with their children to enforce learning and interaction.
See the complete list of Screen Time for Children By Age.Tips for screen time Everything in this world has a flipside. Let's be smart in maximizing the benefit of technology. Setting some rules will make things a little lighter.
- Be strict in implementing a screen time limit. Decide on what apps or TV shows can your child play or watch. There are heaps of beneficial applications to download for your child's development.
- Engage children in physical activities and social interactions. Create a list of home projects that children can be busy with to lure them away from using their gadgets.
- There should be no TV in the bedroom as it can disrupt their sleep.
- Story-telling is still the best bond that you can do with your children before tucking them in.
- Plan ahead. Make a daily screen time schedule for your child.
- Model good screen time behavior. Your children should not see you breaking the rules.