Child Health

Children and Screens


Children grow in a world where screens are virtually everywhere. And access to them cannot be easier. With the accelerated development of both the form and content, and new technologies and applications emerging relentlessly, parents may find it challenging to control their children’s access to screens. Granted, such developments can be of great use for the future generations. Still, they can be alarming. Therefore, to have a better understanding of the impact of screens on children’s lives is essential.

Screens types:
  • Television
  • Smart devices
  • Video games
Bright side of screens: 
  • Through screens, children can get new information and ideas, learn new languages, hone their skills and develop their mental capacities.
  • Screens can be instrumental for boosting children's awareness of the world around them, and opening new horizons for learning and acquiring knowledge.
  • Interactive media grant children the opportunity to enhance their social participation, and fuel their sense of belonging.
  • Online means of communication enable students to cooperate with one another and work in groups.
  • Social media allow the members of separated families to keep in touch with one another.

Signs of screen addiction: 
  • Always feeling anxious and irritated whenever the internet connection is lost or disrupted;
  • Child’s incessant obsession with social media, video games, etc;
  • Child's loss of the sense of time, or becoming unaware of those around him or her, whenever using such devices;
  • An inclination to solitude, lack of communication, and staying at home; and
  • Little or no physical or social activity, due to the child's preoccupation with screens.

Screen time: 
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following:
Age group
​Newborns and toddlers under 18 months
​No screen time.
​Children 18 to 24 months of age
​A few minutes of screen time, with a parent. 
​Preschool age
​No more than one hour a day, with adults who can help them understand what they watch. 
​5 - 18 years old
​Parents should limit screen time to no more than two hours a day. They should also ensure that screens don’t prevent their children from getting enough sleep, or exercising. 

Screen-use tips: 
Granted, the best way to protect the eye from screens is to limit screen time. Sometimes, though, this proves to be challenging or unfeasible; in which case, the following tips should be considered for protecting your eyes: 
  • Take frequent breaks to relieve your eyes, and avoid long screen time. To do that, the ‘20-20-20 rule’ is recommended. According to this rule, for every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, a person should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. 
  • Keep away from screens for two or three hours before going to bed;
  • Use eye-moistening drops when suffering from eye dryness; 
  • Keep the screen clean, and reduce its brightness, to avoid eye strain;
  • Make sure to blink frequently to moisten your eyes, and use eye-moistening drops when suffering from eye dryness;
  • Set the room illumination, avoid bright lighting, and keep your eyes away from the source of light;
  • Adjust the screen settings (font size, contrast, brightness, etc.) to the appropriate level; and
  • Avoid bending your neck while using electronics, make sure to place screens at your eye level, and at an arm’s length.

Suggestions for children's leisure: 
Encourage the child to draw, paint, play with clay, play with sand, solve simple riddles, play puzzle games, or build figures with plastic blocks, as well as identifying colors, numbers, animals, etc;
Take the child to the library, guide him to read stories that are proper for his age, and encourage him to write short stories;
Encourage the child to exercise and acquire new experiences; and
Encourage the child to spend some time learning a new language.

General tips for parents: 
  • Make sure to keep your eye on your child while using screens, without the child taking notice, and without preventing him;
  • Consider using parent-security apps: these are apps installed to computers and smart devices to control and monitor their child’s activity on such devices;
  • Limit the child’s use of screens to specific durations and times;
  • Keep bedrooms, mealtime, and exercise time screen-free;
  • Stop using screens before going to bed, and keep them away bedrooms;
  • Engage the child in setting rules for using screens, so that it would be easier for him to carry them out;
  • In cases of severe screen addiction, the child’s screen time should be reduced regularly.
  • Play non-screen games with the child;
  • Avoid relying on screens as a means to keep the child quiet;
  • Encourage the child to open up a conversation on whatever topic he or she thinks about;
  • Make sure that the programs and applications used by the child are free from violence; and
  • Encourage the child to talk whenever he or she feels threatened, or finds him- or herself in a dubious situation.
Remember that, in terms of the programs watched by children, quality is more important than quantity.

Last Update : 21 November 2019 12:32 PM
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