Most parents will understand what it feels like to find their son playing “Fortnite” when he should be sleeping, or their daughter browsing Facebook when they should be revising for an exam. Our kids and their technology are practically joined at the hip, so there’s no wonder that the question of “how much screen time is too much?” has sparked a lot of interest amongst parents, educators and researchers. I have teamed up with a prep school in Somerset to offer fellow parents some information and clear up some questions on screen time and its pros and cons.
Technology is a big cause of guilt for many parents. They either feel ashamed that their child is watching far too much television compared to their friend’s child who isn’t allowed to watch any, or they feel upset for taking away their child’s favourite gadget. To cut a long story short, there are far more important parenting issues to worry about than technology use, so cut yourself some slack. As long as you are being the best parent you can be, how much time they spend playing on their iPad won’t really have much difference. All parents have a different approach and what’s right for your friend and her family might not be right for you.
Lots of parents worry that letting their child play for on their phones, tablets and gaming consoles for too long means they’re missing out on things like physical exercise and fresh air. While this is true, there are also lots of benefits to modern technology. Younger children are able to develop excellent hand-eye co-ordination skills. They become well-practiced in the art of attention to detail as a necessary skill to complete certain tasks. Older kids are also able to socialise by means of social media. These are just some of the many benefits of modern technology.
Recently the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health published some screen time guidance, which suggested that it is completely impossible to recommend an appropriate time limit because there are too many factors at play. How long you let your child use their technology depends on the child’s age and level of maturity, as well as the family’s values. With that said, the answer to the question is that it’s entirely up to you, just stop beating yourself up over it.