Screen time is the latest problem plaguing society. While it has only been noticed recently, this widespread issue has been developing for a long time. Two in three babies have been found to rely on technology for entertainment, even more so among toddlers. In this era of technology, most of us spend most of our time looking at screens in a multitude of forms. When ingrained in children from a young age, this sedentary time is damaging to the brain and can have long-lasting detrimental impacts.
Alice Ann Holland, Ph.D. ABPP, a certified clinical neuropsychologist and the Research Director at Children’s Health Neuropsychology service explains that too much screen time can seriously harm a child. Therefore, parents have the ultimate responsibility and must take swift action to actively curtail it.
In 2019, the World Health Organization established guidelines concerning screen time for children. These guidelines indicated that children below the age of two should have no exposure to electric screens and those between the ages of two and four should be limited to one hour. The American Academy of Pediatrics later expanded on this suggestion and prescribed the following recommended screen times for children:
0 – 2 Years: During these foundational years, parents should ensure that screen time is avoided. However, video-chatting or apps like flashcards with no video content can be introduced under parent supervision. Any exposure should only begin at 6 months of age.
2 – 5 Years: As your child navigates their early years, educational content should be their primary activity. Nevertheless, it should never exceed one hour of screentime.
6 and above: As your child grows they should be allowed proportional personal screen time within reason, taking into account how it impacts their exercise, sleep, or school-work.
Taking the above guidelines into account, the following steps are methods to minimize screen time for your baby:
1. Play Baby Songs on Bluetooth Speakers
Babies have been scientifically proven to naturally react to nursery rhymes. They draw their attention and elicit action. Some babies tend to dance or move their bodies when interactive music is playing. However, if you are streaming it from a phone, ensure that they do not come in contact with the device. Using a Bluetooth speaker is advisable under these conditions.
2. Buy Sensory Books
These sound or touch-and-feel books are a must for every parent. Aside from being entertaining, they are the first means of education administered to children. They help babies assimilate to the outside world and instill some basic concepts at an early age.
3. Give them an open-ended wooden toy
A typical method to ensure your baby isn’t exposed to screen time is to entertain them with toys. Give them toys that can occupy their time. These toys are generally interactive and simple, while still helping build real-world skills. For example, a wooden car is preferable to a battery-operated car since it needs the baby to help move it around, which helps in the development of motor skills and avoids sedentary play.
4. Give your baby an activity board
These are mostly known as activity or sensory boards and are an exciting game for babies. The fun and simple project is designed to keep your child busy and engaged. Giving them an intriguing board to unravel takes away their attention from screen time, while at the same time improving their analytical and fine motor skills.
Limiting an infant's screen time is ideal the focus on their essential formative years should be on educational development. Excess screen time leads to a serious and imminent problem that is escalating rapidly. Recently, diabetes 2 and obesity have increased amidst a growing trend of children watching too much television. Parents are beginning to bear the blame for not taking ample precautions. The first step towards fixing this issue is limiting screen time. And it has to start now.