Kids’ screen time has still bad publicity, especially for some parents. When it comes to their kids’ activities, they usually distinguish either between active, screen-free time and passive time with digital devices. With the recent development in new technologies for children and new products on the market, this line between active time and time spent with devices is not so clear any more. So do devices really decrease kids’ physical activity and how can you seize the fun elements of devices without making your child glued to the screen?
Active vs. passive screen time
When it comes to screen time, you can divide it into 2 categories: active and passive screen time. Both of these types will bring different results for your kid. Therefore, time spent consuming anything on TV and engaging in some educational activities on tablet, which require interaction cannot be measured in the same way. Research shows that such activities like talking with family on Skype can actually help in the development of kids’ social skills – in that way it is a form of social interaction.
Active screen time
Active screen time is time during which your child cognitively and physically engages in screen-based activities: in other words they are encouraged to move, solve tasks, respond etc.
One source of active screen time are video games. According to the research on Queensland University of Technology energy spent playing video games was much higher than spent watching TV. Indeed, more and more video games are promoting physical activities. Some of them are specifically designed to make children exercise, but in most cases it is the result of using them: all dancing and playing games that help your kid stay active and engaged. Such games can be a great way to get kids to exercise. Other research also links video games to improved academic performance. The effects of such active games have been compared to jogging or moderate walking!
The device that can give kids a boost when it comes to their cognitive skills and development is computer. Preschoolers who used computers showed improvement in school readiness and cognitive development as well as higher levels of attention and motivation. Computers also makes social interaction easier thanks to instant feedback and can help your child improve their word knowledge and verbal fluency.
Passive Screen Time
Passive screen time involves sedentary activities with screen or passive receiving of information, for example watching TV/DVDs.
TV has proved to have to harmful effects especially to infants and toddlers less than two years of age. It is also blamed for attentional problems in kids aged 7, including short-term memory and reading recognition. It can also negatively effect cognitive development, reading recognition and comprehension, mathematical proficiency, and short-term memory.
So are devices really decreasing kids’ physical activity?
The answer may surprise you. The results of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show that screen time has nothing to do with kids’ physical activity. Even if a child exceeds recommended two hours of screen time, it does not directly affect their willingness to be active. Further research proved that TV is not related to outdoor playtime when it comes to preschoolers. So if you lower your kids’ screen time, it doesn’t necessarily mean your child will go out and play! “I don’t think it’s as simple as, if a child is not watching television, then by default that child will be physically active,” said the study’s author, Tala Fakhouri, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How can you make sure your child makes the best out of screen time?
Look for games/apps/programs that:
– promote physical activity
– choose media that relate to real-life experiences
– encourage kids to experience things in the real world
– develop creativity
– have educational content
– encourage your child to respond
– don’t leave your child alone with the device
– try out the new apps/programs together with your kid!
Thanks for reading and see you soon!
Magdalena | Appetite For Education
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