How much computer time is too much computer time for children?
While it would be great to have a chart, be able to plot children’s age, and come up with the amount of time a particular child should spend in front of a computer, it is just not that simple. There are many variables that go into what is the perfect amount of screen time for children.
Here are several suggestions as to how to determine what an appropriate amount of screen time is for children.
First, consider the child’s age. Younger children should spend less time; older children can spend more time. But be careful to balance the amount of screen time the child is allowed with his or her need. If she does more school on the computer, take that into consideration. If the child uses the computer solely for entertainment, playing games, communicating with friends, and simple web searching, then the amount of time the child spends should be fairly limited.
Second, consider the child’s behavior. Many parents find that the longer a child is allowed in front of a computer screen, the more irritable they become.
Additionally, some parents notice that children have a harder time winding down and going to sleep if they have prolonged game time. If the child’s sleep habits are being affected, or your child shows increased irritability, then it is reasonable to reduce screen time and see how that affects the child’s behavior.
Closely related to the child’s behavior and sleep habits would also be the child’s physical condition. It is very important that children are getting enough physical activity. Some parents balance screen time with outside time or physical activity.
With the rise in obesity around the world, and increase in weight related disease processes in children and young adults, keeping children physically active is of increased importance. An increase in physical activity might cut into screen time, but it might also cause an improvement in behavior as excess energy is expended.
The third thing is of a security consideration. The child should not be allowed more screen time than you can reasonably oversee. If you cannot directly or remotely oversee the amount of time the child spends on the computer then consider reducing the screen time until it matches up with the amount of time you can supervise. Do not let the computer be a babysitter, or something to keep the child occupied.
There are too many people out there who want to do harm to unsuspecting children and unprotected computers. Even if you are directly supervising your child on the computer, it never hurts to remind him or her about internet security. One of the best ways to prevent cyber bullying is to be aware of what your child is doing on the internet.