Screen time and digital technology is an important part of children and adults’ lives – and more so at the moment due to government restrictions. Smart phones and tablets are great for keeping in touch with family and friends at times like these. This is especially important for children and teenagers to stay connected to their friends.
Many families want to find a reasonable balance between time spent on screens and time for all the other fun, active and social stuff your child can do. If you’re worried your child is spending too much time in front of a tv, computer screen, phone or tablet, we have lots of tips for supporting a balanced approach to screen time for babies, children and teenagers.
Screen time positives and negatives
Screen time, particularly due to the current restrictions, can create positive opportunities for:
- social circles and friendship
- information and learning
- entertainment and enjoyment
- feeling connected with friends.
Screen time can also have a negative impact on:
- health and activity
- family time
- quality of sleep
Children and teenagers will use and engage with screens in different ways at different times in their lives. So, we have some age specific top tips to help you support your child whatever their age.
Find out more about screen time for babies and toddlers
Find out more about screen time for children
Find out more about screen time for teenagers
Too much screen time?
It’s generally agreed that some screen time itself isn’t harmful, but what is important is what children are doing on their screens. For example, older children might be using video calling to see and chat with their friends. Taking part in online interactions with friends will help them to feel like they are part of the group and will help them maintain their friendships. This will be important for when social distancing rules are relaxed.
Recent articles in the media, such as this one from the BBC, suggest that some children may be getting too much screen time.
Right now, maintaining friendships online is important to all of us. Supporting this sort of online activity will help children to return to face-to-face interaction with friends when we are able to.
We aren’t suggesting taking digital devices away from your child, but it’s important to give children time, space and freedom to play away from screens every day.
Playing is important
Children get a range of exercise and significant mental health benefits when they play actively. Each day should have some time and space for play without digital technology. We have plenty of playful ideas for the whole family.
Children who have a range of things to do and places to play are usually better at managing their own use of digital technology and devices. To help your child manage their screen time, make sure your home has times and places where technology is not used – for example, mealtimes and bedtimes.
If you limit your own screen use, and model good, moderate use of devices and time online in front of your child, they will learn from you.