For the second year in a row, Informal Family Child Care (IFCC) and Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood have partnered together to celebrate Screen Free Week — which takes place every year from May 4 – 10th. The goal is to unplug from our digital gadgets and spend free time playing, reading, daydreaming, creating, exploring, and connecting with family and friends.
Young children learn best by interacting with people and exploring the world using their developing senses. The use of media and technology to engage, entertain and occupy children is a reality in many child care environments and can be challenging to manage. In the latest edition of Connections in Early Learning, we explored the impact of technology and screen time on children, and offered strategies for reducing this time.
The following information is excerpted from Facing the Screen Dilemma: Young Children, Technology and Early Education – a guide published by The Committee for a Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC) about the use, impact and reduction of screen time for young children.
The Committee for a Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC) works for the rights of children to grow up—and the freedom for parents to raise them—without being undermined by commercial interests. We advocate for policies to protect children from harmful marketing and promote commercial-free time and space for kids about the use, impact and reduction of screen time for young children.
Smartphones, tablets, e-books, and more – the explosion of new screen devices offers both possibilities and challenges for families today. When should children be introduced to screens? How much time should they spend with screens? Is screen time helpful or harmful to children’s brain development? Does content matter? There’s not much research about new technologies and children—but there are some things we do know.
In order to thrive, young children need healthy food, shelter, and plenty of positive interactions with the people who love them. They benefit from being talked to, read to, and played with and learn best from hands-on, creative play. They also need time outside and with nature. These early experiences build important life skills like creativity, compassion, curiosity, and problem solving.
WHY AVOID OR LIMIT SCREEN TIME? RESEARCH TELLS US:
- The more time our youngest children spend with screens, the less time they spend interacting with caring adults and in hands-on, creative play—2 activities proven to be important for learning.
- Too much screen time is linked to learning, attention, and social problems, childhood obesity and sleep disturbances. It also exposes kids to lots of harmful advertising.
- Screen media can be habit-forming. Young children who spend more time with screens have a harder time turning them off when they get older.
- Even a little exposure to violent, sexualized, stereotyped, or commercialized content can be harmful to children.
- Make sure that children have plenty of time for hands-on, creative and active play. They also often love helping with everyday activities, including gardening, baking, and folding laundry.
- If you choose to use screens with your children, set rules early on about when, where, what, and how much. Screen activities with obvious end-points can help a lot with time limits.
- Remove televisions and other devices from children’s bedrooms.
- Turn off screens when they are not in use. Parents talk less to children when background television is on and it interrupts the kind of play essential for learning.
- Take stock of your own screen time—remember that you are your child’s most powerful role model.
DID YOU KNOW?
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding screen time for children under 2 and suggests limiting screen time for children 2 and older to no more than 1-2 hours per day.
- For preschoolers, watching just 20 minutes of a fast-moving cartoon show can have a negative impact on attention, the ability to delay gratification, self-control, and problem solving.
- Electronic books in which screen images respond to touch are less likely than traditional books to bring about the kind of adult-child interactions that promote literacy.