It's OK to Give Your Kids More Screen Time, Say Researchers

By Tom Pritchard on at

How much time are you allowed to let some sort of display act as a babysitter before it becomes bad for your children? It's a debate that's rumbled on for as long as screens have been a thing, and pops up a lot more often now that we live in the age of tablets, YouTube, video games, and all those other high tech things kids love to star at. Well the latest addition says its alright to let your kids have more time in front of a screen.

After performing nearly 20,000 interviews with parents of two to five year olds, researchers from Oxford Internet Institute and Cardiff University found that limiting a child's screen time to a mere two hours a day doesn't actually seem to have an impact on their psychological well-being.

The study was designed to see the correlation between limiting screen time and a bunch of other factors. Factors tat included caregiver attachment, impact on emotional resilience, and positive affect (the extent to which an individual subjectively experiences positive moods such as joy, interest, and alertness). he research team found that it didn't actually matter if children followed the rules strictly or not:

The team found no consistent correlations between either the 2010 or revised 2016 advised digital usage limits and young children’s wellbeing. While children aged two to five whose technology usage was limited in-line with AAP guidance (one to two hours a day) showed slightly higher levels of resilience, this was balanced by lower levels of positive affect.

It's not like this particular report (which can be read here) is going to alleviate parental fears, though. As I mentioned before concerns about the impact of screens have existed for as long as they've been around, and we've all heard terms like 'idiot box' and 'square eyes' thrown about. Some of us might have even heard those during your childhood from your parents, rather than classical entertainment.

This study is also far from the first time this conclusion has been reached. Last October the American Academy of Pediatrics released its own research about how sweeping generalised advice about kids and screens are not the way to go - and in the process flipping the table on the two hour recommendation it had been sticking to for years.

The research isn't saying that kids should be glued to YouTube all day watching creepy fake episodes of Peppa Pig. That's how they get fat and lazy. There are things it doesn't cover, like fears of screen addiction. Instead, by tackling the issue of the relationship between screens and child psychology, it shows that gadgets with screens have potential benefits. Something recently reiterated after bringing iPads into classrooms in Northern Ireland.

If anything, our findings suggest the broader family context, how parents set rules about digital screen time, and if they’re actively engaged in exploring the digital world together, are more important than the raw screen time. Future research should focus on how using digital devices with parents or care-givers and turning it into a social time can effect children’s psychological wellbeing, curiosity, and the bonds with the caregiver involved.

So be safe in the knowledge that an extra five minutes of tablet time every day isn't going to turn your child into a mumbling idiot before they turn 13, but maybe don't use it as a permanent babysitter.  [The Next Web]

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