SCREEN time is the total amount of time spent using any screen – including television, tablets and phones, and can be a source of debate between parents, educators and health professionals.
The American Association of Pediatrics recommends:
- no screen time for children aged 0 to 2 years
- less than one hour per day for ages 2-5
- less than two hours per day for ages 5+
Recent research found that every 30 minutes of handheld screen time per day increased the risk of language delay in children under two years by 49 per cent.
Babies and young children learn best through face-to-face interaction with their caregivers, and aren’t able to process the fast-moving images used in television and apps.
They also have difficulty distinguishing between what is real life and what is not.
For older children, choosing apps that will assist in your child’s learning can be a minefield.
Searching for apps under “education” in your app store is a good start. Most apps have age recommendations which act as a good guide.
For speech and literacy, apps designed by Australian companies (eg OzPhonics) can be based on the Australian curriculum and have Australian accents.
If you are unsure about a paid app, it might have a free trial, so see if your child is engaged before spending money.
Turning off “in-app purchases” can also be an important money-saving feature!
Most importantly, iPads may be excellent for keeping children entertained, but you need to participate in their play.
An educational app won’t improve their language skills unless they’re using what they learn in interactions with others.
If your preschool child is drawing using an app like Playschool Art Maker, talk to your child about what they are making by:
- Asking ‘wh’ questions (Where are the toys going?)
- Limiting questions that only give yes/no answers
- Commenting on what you see (I like that big house you made.)