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How much screen time is healthy for your children?

Posted on 12/6/2014 by Rod da Silva in Parental Controls online time Child safety

A recent study by Dr. Aric Sigman, a Fellow of the UK Royal Society of Medicine found that by the age of seven the average child will have spent a full year of 24-hour days watching recreational screen media. And over the course of their childhood, children spend more time watching TV than they spend in school.

In a 2012 report on media consumption in the UK Ofcom estimated that the average 3-4-year-old spends three hours a day in front of a screen. This rises to four hours for ages 5-7, 4.5 hours by ages 8-11, and 6.5 hours for teenagers.

According to Sigman, children’s cognitive development is two years down on what it was 30 years ago because children have lost both concrete and abstract thinking. Today’s children have less idea of weight and length measurements because the more time spent in virtual worlds, the less they are involved in the real world. Sigman is also critical of schools over-use of technology, which he blames on the multi-billion- education-tech industry forcing its products on schools and even nurseries on the unfounded fear that children suffer without using the latest digital devices.

Sigman identifies the following “Parents and Children’s Screen Time Guidelines”, which he discusses in detail in his article:

• Reduce exposure
• Check access and availability
• Set rules
• Explain the reasons
• Parental role modelling
• Moms need to nag
• Remove background noise
• Monitor use
• Take breaks
• Stop multitasking
• No screens before bedtime

Finally, Dr Sigman is a big believer in what he calls the “gift of boredom”. He decries the idea that the worst thing that can happen to a child is for he or she to be bored. Being over stimulated is worse than being bored. Learning to cope with being bored leads to greater self-sufficiency, and less risk that children will later become addicted to unhealthy activities to fill such gaps.

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