As a GenX mum, I’m a digital immigrant. I grew up with a phone that plugged into the wall and had a cord, changing the channel on the TV required getting off the couch, and taking a photo meant using a camera and getting film developed. My kids though, at age 12 and 10, are digital natives.
They were born into a world dependent on devices. They could program the HD recorder by the age of five, gave their grandparents lessons on how to drive an iPhone and couldn’t understand why touching the screen on my three-year-old laptop didn’t make things bigger, move or play. This new generation have been exposed to screens from a very young age and many studies have indicated that excessive screen time, and our reduction in getting outside to play, is having a negative effect on kids’ vision. As a parent, and especially a digital immigrant parent, this is really hard to navigate. Kids need devices to do their homework, they automatically pick up a phone (or just yell ‘Hey Siri’) to find an answer to a question and thrive on the on-demand visual entertainment offered by Netflix and the like. So how much screen time is too much?
Earlier in 2019, the World Health Organisation released guidelines covering screen time for children under the age of five. According to their guidelines:
Infants under 1 years of age, zero screen time is recommended.
Kids aged 1-4 years should have no more than 60 minutes of screen time per day.