SCREENS have become so embedded in our daily lives that it’s hard to imagine turning them off for a whole week. Besides the fact that many, if not most, children use them for homework, they are also how we get work done, get questions answered, communicate, shop, and relax. For many families, they are also how they keep the children occupied. How do you go a day without all that — let alone a week?
According to the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), 8 to 18-year-olds spend an average of seven hours a day on screen media. Some of that is homework, but clearly, it’s not all homework. Pre-schoolers spend two to four hours, toddlers two hours, and a third of babies under a year are spending more than an hour watching videos or playing games every day.
It’s not all awful, of course. There is certainly high-quality educational content out there. However, children aren’t always watching that high-quality educational content. And even if they were, when you are watching a screen you are generally sedentary, not interacting with others, and relying on the screen to entertain or guide you rather than entertaining or guiding yourself.
This has implications for the health and development of children. Excessive screen time is associated with a higher risk of obesity. It can lead to poorer problem-solving and social skills and poorer grades. It’s been linked to Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other behavioural problems.
By Judith Coulson