A few pieces of research to start, and you can find more online if you look!
* ’Screen time might be physically changing kids brains... Paediatrics warn that kids literacy and language skills suffer with screen use, and MRI scans of their brains appear to back up the findings' (www.technologyreview.com).
* ’Digital devices can interfere with everything from sleep to creativity' (Harvard Medical School on line).
* 'new study suggests that increased screen time could detrimentally change the very brain structure of preschoolers’ (Patrick Coleman; Fatherly).
* Screen time ‘can have negative effects on their development, including issues with memory, attention and language skills.… is linked to poorer progress on key developmental measures such as communication skills, problem solving and social interactions.' (Time)
I’ve been in school this week and helping pupils in year two and three to understand and think about internet safety as it was Internet Safety Day.
Maybe you’ve had some information sent home from your child’s school or nursery? I had a great discussion with these children, most of whom did understand when to ask for help, what ‘not to do’ online but scarily some still thought they didn’t need parental controls, thought they ‘knew it all’ when, during our discussion it quickly became apparent that they didn’t.
However, this discussion linked to how they used their tablet, when I asked did they have a phone or did they use their parents, I was shocked that most of them didn’t think the dangers on their tablet were also on the phone - nearly the whole class said they would use the phone to watch videos on YouTube or games that ‘popped up.’Gulp!
At the end of the day, I was in another class and the teaching assistant explained to me that at the end of every day the children were allowed to watch Netflix for 15 minutes.
I thought this was a treat but, no, it happens every day. Yes, they were watching Horrid Henry which is age appropriate, but I thought why couldn’t it be read to them? Gulp!
Walking back to my car at the end of the day with these ‘incidents’ in my head, I saw a child from the class I had just taught getting into his car and being passed a tablet... why, I wondered, what happened to talking? Gulp!
Then, now I’ve heard about these things but I really didn’t think any parent would actually do this, I saw a mum pushing a pram with a gorgeous little baby about one-year-old in it, with a screen attached to the handle bars. I thought, no, the baby can’t seriously be watching that, it can’t be on, it must be a fancy phone thing or something. So, I crossed over and deliberately walked slowly passed mum (who did look at me as if I was a bit odd!) and was absolutely shocked to see what was obviously a child’s video playing, gulp!
I drove home in a bit of a daze, reflecting on all I’d seen and heard, I even had a glass of wine instead of coffee when I got in!
I really did wonder, and I do know there are lots of very conscientious parents out there, do most not take any notice of all the information about internet safety, about the dangers of strangers online, of cartoons and films with ‘dodgy characters and images popping up,’ about the danger of too much screen time etc? Do they think ‘my child knows it all, knows how to be safe’, ‘my child only watches a couple of hours and that’s okay,’ ‘my baby loves watching the nursery rhymes,’
‘I trust my child not to be friends with someone he hasn’t met,’ ‘my child needs the tablet to relax’ ?
A few years back, the Greater Shantallow Area Partnership developed an amazing campaign called Screen Wise, which gave parents information about internet safety, the impact of too much screen time, about parental controls, cyber bullying and much more.
I’ve listed a few sites below, and I’m sure there are many more, for you to find some of this information for yourselves - I know as a campaign it had a huge impact on everyone in that community, from babies to teenagers and adults too, so maybe you could start a wave of internet safety messages yourself - find a tip, share it on line and together let’s help all our babies, toddlers, children and teenagers enjoy their tablet, phones and internet and all they can offer. But always remembering ‘too much screen time is not good for me,’ for our lives are about living, about being social, about talking and playing together, not about sitting, zoned out for hours at a time on a machine. We have one life to share with our children, one life to love, so screens away it’s time to talk and play, oh and that means your phone is to go away too.
Screen Time Recommendations
When I’m under two no screen time for me, and half an hour will do as I go from two to three.
And an hour is plenty when I reach four and as I get older you can give me a little bit more.
But remember and please, please, do… these times cover the whole day through!
Sites For Advice
NSPCC Share Aware videos, tips and information - fab!
Internet Safety (NI Direct) - lots of information about everything!. Safer Internet Day 2020 Quiz for seven 13-year-olds (saferinternet.org.uk)
Childnet childnet.com - great information plus resources to discuss and share with your child. Childline Staying Safe On Line great for pre teens and teenagers.
Written by, on Facebook, Me & You @meandyoubyjenni to support the Greater Shantallow Talking To Our Babies, Greater Shantallow Area Partnership.
Telephone 028 71358787 / Facebook; Talking To Our Babies / www.shantallow.net