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How to curb your child’s tech time

How much time should a child spend in front of a screen is a question being asked not just by worried parents but psychologists, health organisations and even governments. Wanting our children to be tech-savvy is understandable, and the need to keep them entertained will also make sense to many a parent. But we must also weigh up the risks associated with children having too much screen time.

While television, interactive video games and the Internet can be excellent sources of education and entertainment for children, too much screen time can lead to bad health, obesity and behaviourial problems.

“TV and other tech gadgets are easy babysitters,” says primary school Principal at Riverside College, Lynne Arbuckle. “This is especially tempting during the school holidays when there is so much more free time and boredom inevitably sets in.”

A 2012 report on media consumption in the UK estimated that the average 3-4-year-old spends three hours a day in front of a screen. This rises to four hours for ages 5-7, 4.5 hours by ages 8-11 and 6.5 hours for teenagers.

“Technology is not going to go away, parents need to manage and control their children’s consumption and use,” says Arbuckle. “The reality is that most kids can use a smartphone before they have learned how to write their name down or tie their shoes.”

Tech time needs to be especially well managed during the holidays, with experts strongly suggesting that it should not interfere with traditional playtime. Limits on the amount of time spent playing on gadgets and tech free zones (such as no ipad during dinner time) should be enforced by parents, who need to respect the same rules imposed on their children (that call can wait).

Good-old fashion parenting comes into play, says Arbuckle; “Impose rules about the amount of time a week your children are allowed to spend on their electronic devices, go on family outings and spend quality time with your children. As a parent, setting personal limits on your own technology use is a very good start.”

ENDS

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Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications:

Beverley Houston

Beverley@be-cause.co.za

021 447 1082 / 082 824 8617

On behalf of Riverside College:

Founder: Elana Edwards

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