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A Guide to Screen Time for Children

kids screen time

It’s nearly impossible to raise children these days without exposing them to screens. Between the TV, the smart phone and the computer, screens make up a big part of our lives. But when it comes to growing little brains, how much screen time is healthy?

At Scribbles childcare centres in Mt Roskill and Mt Wellington screen time is kept to a minimum, but what about life at home? Our teachers did a little research to walk you through the global guidelines around screen time and children.

Under Two’s

The official recommendation for children under two is zero hours of screen time. That’s right – none! And our childcare teachers can see why: the little ones in our babies’ room learn so much each and every day from doing.

Computers, phones and TV’s are distractions for our littlest pre-schoolers who learn best through tactile experiences, hands-on activities and putting things in their mouths!

An Important Exception

Even experts bend the rules when screens are used to keep family members in the loop. If you’re in Auckland but have family members on the other side of the country – or world – most childcare centre teachers agree that a little screen time is worthwhile to build that valuable family bond.

Older Children

For kids over two, up to an hour a day of screen time is okay, with an emphasis on quality educational shows and apps. Older kids still need plenty of fresh air and hands-on learning, so do make sure to limit their time on the screen.

What’s the Problem with Screen Time?

With pre-schoolers, so much learning is going on in the real world, not digitally. They’re still learning coordination and balance, improving their motor skills and building their cognitive abilities. Meanwhile, mimicking parents, peers and daycare teachers is so important to develop their communication skills.

Overuse is also linked to childhood obesity, difficulty with sleep and behavioural challenges.

Getting the Balance Just Right

As everything from news to work to social interactions can take place on those little devices, limiting screen time with children can be easier said than done. If you need some help, try these tips:

  • Set a timer and take away the device when it goes off
  • Limit screen time to educational programmes
  • Try a kid-friendly podcast instead
  • Watch your own use – kids mimic what they see!
  • Try a board games night
  • Head outdoors – one of the best ways to get kids away from screens
  • Try a family ‘screen free’ day once a week (or month)

But most of all, don’t beat yourself up! And remember, while it may be hard to put down the phone at home, rest assured that your pre-schoolers are getting their fair share of screen-free time at our Scribbles daycare centres in Mt Roskill and Mt Wellington.