Screens are now an integral part of kids' daily lives. Inside the home, children play video games or browse social media. At school, kids use devices on playgrounds or between classes. Some schools have integrated laptops and digital whiteboards into their classrooms and teaching methods, enhancing interactions between the teacher and student and making the learning experience positive. Though screen time has become an integral part of a child's development, it may still be important to encourage kids to use screen time healthily.
Not all screen time is the same. There are a few differences among the various types of screens humans interact with daily. From smartphones to laptops, tablets or smartwatches, the type of screen changes a child's daily electronic usage.
In a survey, 97% of respondents with kids age 8 and younger had smartphones. Tweens and teens usually use phones to watch shows, go on social media or play games on apps. Children who do not have their own devices may borrow a family member's to watch videos or play games. One of the most widely used electronic devices, cell phones are great for social interaction and can provide endless information to the user.
Students can use computers in classrooms to enhance learning and allow easier access to research materials or writing applications. Children can also interact with computers at home, where parents may allow their kids access to games or TV shows or when students use take-home laptops to complete homework.
Tablets or iPads may be used at school to enhance learning and are often used during remote learning to assist with teaching and virtual classes. Children may also interact with tablets to play games or use creative apps for drawing and coloring.
Watching TV at home is a popular pastime for children. Watching the television can count toward passive screen time, but educational shows or interactive TV options can assist in reducing inactivity.
Children can play games online using a computer, phone or tablet. They might also play on consoles connected to a TV display, meaning video games come in a variety of screen time formats.
Children will encounter various types of screen time throughout their development. Understand the different aspects of each type to learn how best to encourage healthy screen time in a child's life. The five types of screen time include:
Social screen time connects children with their family members or friends and is great for staying in touch with long-distance relatives or friends who have moved away. The most common forms of social screen time use social media, texting or video calls with Facetime, Skype or other platforms to communicate with others.
While this screen time focuses on communication and personal connection, high levels of social media interaction can eventually displace real-world interactions. Social screen time can cause poorer mental health over time.
Passive or inactive screen time focuses on the consumption and entertainment aspects of media. Children and adults use inactive screen time when looking for quick entertainment or a relaxing experience.
Examples of inactive screen time include:
Passive consumption can sometimes cause anti-social behavior and limits the interactions children might have with other peers and friends. There is no physical benefit to passive screen time, and the effects can be detrimental to a child's development when used in excess.
Interacting with the real world through a device like a phone or laptop counts as interactive screen time. For example, certain apps help identify songs heard during an outing, or a nature app can help you identify different animals while taking a hike.
Interactive apps and websites often document information or keep schedules and positively affect educational outcomes. Students can also use this form of screen time during school lessons to enhance learning. Interactive screen time often positively affects learning and promotes education and critical-thinking skills.
The impact of screen time on students who use educational content is often positive. Educational content used at school or at home can provide an enriching experience that focuses on education through enhanced visuals and auditory learning. Students studying or doing homework can also benefit from educational content to assist them in solving problems or memorizing information.
Other screen time can involve the creative usage of media and phone apps. Examples of creative screen time include:
Creative screen time may be beneficial for the user's imagination and intelligence. It encourages learning new skills through online classes or DIY videos and helps children problem-solve through creative trial and error.
The various usages of screen time may impact kids differently. Learning the effects of social media, interactive screen time and educational videos can help you understand how children can best use screen time in healthy ways. These impacts can be both positive and negative.
The negative impacts of social media are prevalent among children and teens. The online world is often confused with reality and increases screen time usage among children.
Social media can also be addictive. Due to the fear of missing out on special events or news, young children can grow up with an increased time spent scrolling through social media.
Influencers on Instagram or TikTok may also negatively affect a child's self-image as they develop due to the various beauty and lifestyle standards shared through social media.
Bullying is any act that causes physical or emotional harm to a person. It can place someone in reasonable fear of injury or create an intimidating or hostile environment.
As socialization has moved online, cyberbullying has become prevalent among kids who use the internet. Cyberbullying often involves using technology or electronic communication to send harmful messages to other people. These messages may take the form of signs, signals, comments, pictures, constant calling or even texting the victim.
Too much idle screen time can have various effects on the brain and body. Learning how to use screen time effectively without causing long-term effects on sleep patterns or social development is essential. Here are a few ways in which passive screen time can negatively affect children:
While the negative aspects of social media and device use are something to keep in mind when it comes to a child's development and mental health, there are several positives to consider. For example, social media helps children connect with family and friends and maintain lasting relationships with others. It can also be great for online learning, content discovery or interactions with creators and artists.
Social media may also encourage children to get involved in civic engagement through fundraising and social awareness campaigns. Sites like LinkedIn and Indeed are also great tools for job finding and building connections for employment opportunities for teenagers. Children and teens can find community and inclusivity among content forums and social media groups that exchange information on hobbies or favorite activities.
Educational screen time can be effective compared to passive or non-educational screen time. Due to the rise of virtual learning, educational videos have become a popular way to help kids learn new information. Educational shows and screen tools in school can create a positive experience and help kids enjoy learning. It can also prepare children for future learning from a young age through digital literacy.
While non-educational screen time can be passive or inactive, educational screen time encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills through creativity and focused learning. Children can also develop their art skills by making videos or learning to draw or write online. Communication skills see improvement through online educational content, with online peers and teachers helping students to use digital educational elements to promote better learning.
There are several ways to integrate healthy screen time practices into a child's life. Children should use screen time in moderation along with educational and interactive content for optimal learning and development. Here are a few ways that children can practice healthy screen time:
Active screen time involves using educational apps and engaging in games with children. Children can also remain active during screen time through creative means such as crafts, art or painting. Exercising while watching a show is also a great option to help improve motor skills and boost creativity. Active screen time focuses on developing close family relationships through dynamic viewing and promotes education through interactive learning.
Lower a child's screen time when they are at home. Though this may seem complicated, follow these steps to ensure a healthy relationship with social media and screen usage:
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