In theory, TV, mobile devices, and gaming consoles seem like a parent’s dream come true. You just plop your child in front of a screen and they’ll stay occupied for hours. However, recent studies show that too much time spent in front of screens was stunting child development. While TV has been around since the 1920s, the rise of portable screens means that kids born in the 21st century are getting more screen time than previous generations, and the effects are just starting to make themselves known.

The good news is, every day more research is coming to light about how we can ensure our kids don’t grow up with developmental issues caused by too much screen time. Here are 4 recommendations by paediatricians and child development experts.

1. Enforce a strict time limit on screen time

For kids aged 2 to 5, screen time should not exceed an hour a day, and the media they’re consuming should be closely monitored by the parents. Do not place TVs or mobile devices in your children’s bedrooms to ensure you can properly regulate how much screen time they’re getting.

2. Provide them with other toys

Most kids like screens because they’re entertainment. Give them an alternative in the form of toys that will tickle their imagination and challenge their brains like Playmobil City Life or puzzle games. Storybooks and colouring books are also great ways to keep them occupied. 

3. Spend more time with your kids

Spending time with your kids has the double benefit of distracting them from screens and forging stronger bonds with them. It doesn’t always have to be play time. At this age, your child can even help you with household chores. With your supervision, they can learn to do simple tasks like cleaning up their toys or helping you put clothes in the washer. They can even stand on a safety stool to watch you cook in the kitchen. The first five years of your child’s life are a critical time for their mental and emotional development, so you should spend as much time with them as possible and teach them essential skills.

4. Go outside

Too much screen time means your child is deprived of the benefits of experiencing the outside world. At this age, they need to learn how to socialise with other people who aren’t their family, so at least once a day take your child out to the playground or day nursery so they can interact with other kids their age.

Most parents allow their kids to indulge in screen time because of the convenience it offers. After all, work and household chores already keep us busy, and to entertain our children on top of that can be too much for some people. However, as a parent, you must remember that your child should be your priority. Work with your spouse or family to ensure your child is well-cared for and isn’t too reliant on screens.