Top executives in Silicon Valley have revealed they limit screen time for their kids since they know how addicting the technological products they built can be. They are also aware how damaging screen time can be to a developing mind. The World Health Organization (WHO) says children under the age of 5 should spend one hour or less per day watching screens, while children under the age of 1 shouldn’t watch screens at all.
While top tech CEOs limit screen time, how do parents in the U.S. monitor and restrict their children’s screen time? Are certain parents more likely than others to pay attention to the impact of technology on their children? Typing.com discovered the most common parental perceptions and rules for screen time and how factors like schooling, income, and generation had an effect.
While the WHO’s study doesn’t mention what negative effect too much screen time can have, they do say that overusing technology can cause a decrease in physical activity. However, according to Typing.com’s study, only 71% of parents have a rule on daily screen time due to the effect it can have on their child’s physical health. Sixty-eight percent created their screen time rules due to the effect on emotional or mental health, while only 57% and 45% believed it will affect social skills and school performance, respectively.
While the majority of parents seem to be aware that screen time can have a negative impact, nearly 30% do not require the TV or a tablet to be turned off at a certain time. Around one-third don’t require a turn-off time for smartphones or gaming consoles. When it came to the impact of school type, parents of public school students were the most restrictive of device usage while those of home-schooled children were the least restrictive.
Even though the WHO recommends that children under the age of 5 should limit their screen time to less than one hour per day, the average age that parents first allowed their children to watch TV was 2.6 years old. On average, children first started using a tablet at 4.7 years of age, a smartphone at 4.6, and a gaming console at 5.2.
High-income parents were more likely to allow their children to use technology for keeping in contact and starting their education sooner, and they were most concerned with the use of social media. However, low-income and middle-income parents were more concerned about health consequences, such as the impact on eye health and attention span.
Finally, there can be different perceptions and opinions on children’s screen time based on a parent’s generation. Baby boomers were the most concerned about using social media and the health consequences of screen time. Millennials were the second-most concerned parents, while Generation Xers were the least concerned about screen time activities and their potential impact.
Parents have their reasons for allowing their children to use technology, with 68% citing that it teaches proper use of technology, and 63% saying it starts their child’s education sooner. While screen time certainly has its benefits, nearly half of parents admit they allow screen time because it keeps their child distracted, and over 43% say it keeps their child quiet. Low-income parents were more likely than high-income parents to allow their children to use technology to keep them distracted and quiet.
In this modern time, it’s impossible to completely stay away from screens and it can certainly make parenting today a challenge. While screen time has its disadvantages for children, technology can be a crucial tool for a child’s development. When there is a focus on using screen time for educational purposes and usage is limited in young children, a healthy balance can be achieved.