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Reduce Screen Time Exposure in Your Child

Reduce Screen Time Exposure in Your Child: Screen time and harmful effects of excessive screen time exposure | KKH

Reduce Screen Time Exposure in Your Child - What it is

What is 'screen time'?

Screen time' refers to time spent on 'screen devices', which refer to any electronic equipment meant for viewing or entertainment that has a screen interface. These can include:

  • Television screens (whether playing TV, cable, satellite, DVDs or internet programmes)
  • Mobile devices (e.g. smartphones and tablets)
  • Computers, desktops, laptops
  • Video or handheld game consoles (e.g. Nintendo Wii or 3DS, Sony Playstation or PSP. Xbox)

Although some screen time can be educational, it is easy to go overboard. Some caregivers also report using screen time to 'babysit' their young children to provide them time for daily chores. 'Background screen time' refers to time when the screen is on in the background or being watched by other household members, while your child is doing another non-screen activity.

What are the professional recommendations on screen time for children?

The 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) media policy statement1 recommends the following:

1. In children younger than 18 months, avoid screen use (except for video-chatting).

2. For children 18 to 24 months of age, if you want to introduce screen time, choose high-quality programming. Watch it with your child to interactively discuss what you are seeing. Avoid solo screen use in this age group.

3. For children 2 to 5 years of age, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programming, coview with your children, help children understand what they are seeing, and help them apply what they learn to the world around them.

4. No screen use 1 hour before bedtime, and remove devices from bedrooms before bed.

Why is too much screen time harmful?

Excessive screen time exposure has been associated with various medical and developmental problems:

  • Behavioural problems: Short attention span, aggression, violence, bullying, and risk taking behaviours are increased in all age groups.
  • lrregular sleep: Difficulty falling asleep, disturbed sleep routines, and nightmares in all age groups lead to sleep deprivation.
  • Language, cognitive and motor delays: Excessive baby TV exposure has been linked to language, cognitive and motor delays in young children.
  • Poor academic performance: School-age children who have TVs in the bedrooms do poorer in exams than those who don't have TVs.
  • Obesity: Poor eating habits and reduction in physical activity contribute to unhealthy weight gain in all age groups.

How do I limit screen time?

  • Agree within your family and other caregivers, such as grandparents or nannies, what your child's maximum daily screen time should be, and stick to it.
  • Explain to your child about your screen time limit, and what consequences there would be if the limit is exceeded (eg. no screen time at all the following day).
  • Set a good example amongst the adults in the household. Limit your own screen time especially when interacting with your child, and avoid watching or playing violent or other inappropriate content while children are present.
  • Eliminate unnecessary background screen time. Turn off the TV to reduce sensory overload and distractions to your child's attention.
  • Discourage repetitive viewings of the same show. Children can easily repeat a programme on You Tube by themselves. Turn the screen off after one episode of a children's programme.
  • Do not let your child eat in front of a screen device. This includes both having a child watch a screen to eat their regular meal, as well as snacking on unhealthy foods while watching TV.
  • Avoid using screen devices as the only way to calm your child. Although there are intermittent times (eg, medical procedures, airplane flights) when they may be useful as a soothing strategy, using screen devices to calm could lead to problems with your child developing emotional regulation.
  • Keep screen devices out of the bedroom. Apart from reducing screen time, this also allows you to monitor what content your child is being exposed to.
  • Stop all screen time 1 hour before bedtime. This allows your child's sleep hormone (melatonin) to rise naturally. It also gives you time to do a bedtime routine with your child to promote parent-child bonding and interaction during bedtime stories or lullabies.
  • Avoid purchasing more devices than you need. Children should not need their own TV or smartphone/tablet. They can be allowed access to your device for a limited time, e.g. 15-20 minutes, and having a password on your screen device will prevent unauthorised use.

What else should I be mindful of during my child's screen time?

  • Check the appropriateness of the show your child is watching. Where necessary, refer to movie ratings or online reviews.
  • Look for media choices that are educational or promote social values. Be firm about not allowing content that is age-inappropriate.
  • View and discuss programmes together with your child. Talk about what you see, such as family values, violence or drug abuse.

How else can I entertain my child without the use of a screen device?

The time period spent on a screen device is generally a solitary and a passive one. Young children should be learning to interact socially, communicate with others, practise physical exercise, develop imaginative play, think creatively, and engage in multi-sensory exploration. For children under 2 years, the importance of caregivers sitting down to play interactively with the child cannot be overstated. Interactive play promotes language and communication skills, as well as social and cognitive development. Play make-believe, peekaboo, hide-and-seek, and get your child to imitate you doing nursery rhyme actions and songs. For older children, offer fun alternatives. such as reading and storytelling, role-playing or dressing up, building blocks or jigsaw puzzles. art and craft, family board games, or outdoor play, hide-and-seek, or sports such as ball games or swimming.

Reduce Screen Time Exposure in Your Child - Symptoms

Reduce Screen Time Exposure in Your Child - How to prevent?

Reduce Screen Time Exposure in Your Child - Causes and Risk Factors

Reduce Screen Time Exposure in Your Child - Diagnosis

Reduce Screen Time Exposure in Your Child - Treatments

Reduce Screen Time Exposure in Your Child - Preparing for surgery

Reduce Screen Time Exposure in Your Child - Post-surgery care

Reduce Screen Time Exposure in Your Child - Other Information

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth

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