While digital devices have become commonplace during family time in most homes, studies show that screen-free activities have a positive impact on children’s development and health in a wide range of areas, including social skills, physical exercise, sleep and academic performance.
Research from Action for Children found that nearly a quarter of parents struggle to get their children to “unplug” and take part in activities away from television, phone and computer screens. When asked which behaviour they found most difficult to control in their children, parents said they struggled to limit technology-based activity (23%) more than getting them to eat healthily (19%), go to bed on time (18%) or do their homework (10%).
The benefits of screen-free learning
Reducing time with electronic devices gives families an opportunity to spend more time together and improve communication through face-to-face interaction. It also encourages kids to read, play outside and get exercise. A 2014 study found that parental monitoring of kids' media use led to improved sleep, decreased body mass index, and better grades.
How much screen time for kids?
For a lot of parents, screen time has become an easy way of facilitating “me-time”. However, letting your kids use devices too much could result in less “me-time” for the parents in the long-run. This is because kids who rely on screens too much are less likely to be learning how to direct their own play, as well as having limited experience with boredom. This can also make them more prone to tantrums if screens are taken away.
So, how much screen time should you allow? The simple answer is not that much. For example, experts suggest that babies and toddlers be kept away from screens altogether. Kids between the ages of two and five should have no more than an hour of screen time per day, whereas school age children should have no more than two hours.
Not all screen time is bad
Of course, not all screen time is bad. According to the London School of Economics’ 2018 Parenting for a Digital Future report, using digital media doesn’t necessarily lead to children being constantly glued to their screens. As a matter of fact, some activities can help bring kids and their parents closer together, including movie nights or playing video games with your kids.
Need some inspiration for bringing back playtime? We’ve created a fun visual guide to show you how screen-free toys and activities aid the development of children in various age groups. From babies to school-age children, our guide covers the benefits of different types of screen-free play.
If you’re looking for more fun ways to get your children away from screens, you can reap the benefits of getting them outdoors, either to help in the garden or play. We offer a wide range of outdoor play toys perfect for helping kids develop their motor skills, including little trikes, balance bikes, kids’ scooters and pedal go karts.