two girls using a laptop computer

The digital babysitter?

Tablets, mobile ‘phones, TVs, laptops and computer games consoles are everywhere and most of us couldn’t do without them! We all know that allowing your child screen time sometimes feels like the only way we can get things done. Giving your child access to a tablet or phone is often a sure-fire way of keeping them happy and busy whilst you get on with other things.

Screen time isn’t always a bad thing, there are many fantastic, educational apps out there that are great for helping children to develop but we need to be really mindful of how long we use them for.

What do we mean by “Screen time?”

“Screen time” refers to any time spent looking at a screen.

This includes:

  • TV – including watching television programmes, DVDs, and playing games consoles
  • Tablets
  • Smart Phones
  • Laptops or PCs

How much screen time is ok for my child?

Advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and The American Academy of Paediatrics suggests that children aged between 6 and 10 should have a 90-minute daily limit on time spent in front of screens.

A limited amount of child-friendly screen time can be educational, but it’s important to ensure the content is appropriate for your child’s age. 

How important is what my child watches or plays?

It is important to ensure that programmes or games are age-appropriate for your child. Make sure you look into what programmes/games are about before you allow your child to watch/use them. The NSPCC website has lots more information about this for you, including how to set up parental control on screens to try to prevent children from being able to access and/or view adult content.

Top tips for safe Screen Time at home

  • Sit with your child and share the screen and talk about what they are doing or seeing.
  • Talk about what your child saw on screen in your everyday activities.
  • Set limits on the amount of time young children access screens – this might be a challenge to start with but children will enjoy doing fun things as a family.
  • Switch off and unplug devices and TVs when they are not in use – background noise can impact on listening skills and children will be easily distracted by TV programmes even if the sound is turned down
  • Think about YOUR phone behaviour! Everyday activities like helping your child with bathing or feeding, eating out, sitting on the bus, playing in the garden provide a great time for you to talk and interact together.

Visit our information page about keeping children safe online

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