Remember not all Screen Time is Equal
During recent conversations with families, many have expressed a concern for the amount of screen time children are exposed to during ‘lockdown’. To further explore this issue, I would like to share some information with you from Australian’s Parenting expert Justin Coulson from ‘Happy Families’. Justin explains that current worldwide research indicates that while ‘extreme’ (more than 5 hours a day for young children) screen time can be problematic, as parents our focus should be on the type of screen time rather than how much.
To simplify, Justin breaks screen time into 3 categories:
Consumption – this type of screen time is passive and likened to eating junk food. A little is fun, but too much is not good for wellbeing ie: social media, binging on Netflix, or too much gaming.
Connection – this type of screen time is active and is about socialisation, friendships and beneficial for wellbeing. ie: zoom parties with families or facetiming with friends.
Creativity – again, this is about active engagement, it’s positive, constructive and builds upon our skillsets, boosts mental health. ie: webinars, interactive games, tutorials, HBL.
To sum up – If yours or your child’s screen time is predominately ‘Consumption based’; unintentional, passive, brain-dead ‘zombie’ time – then it’s probably not helpful or healthy. Instead, consider what else could be achieve during this time that would better serve wellbeing? Maybe … some physical activity, proper rest, playing or listening to music, spending time with friends, exploring and interacting with nature and developing other interests and talents.
While games and social media are examples of passive or ‘Consumptive’ screen time, they are also examples of ‘Connection’ and ‘Creativity’ – it just depends on what you’re doing on these platforms!
Should you wish to read more about screen time or how to better manage this in your own family, please refer to the Happy Families website.