Yesterday we held a talk at the Upper School, delivered by Dr. Aric Sigman, about ‘Managing Screen Time’ and how this supports children’s development and their academic progress. It was good to see many of you there. The talk was very informative, drawing on a huge range of medical research to support the opinion that children benefit from having their screen time managed carefully. Dr. Sigman recommended that all parents should have restrictions put in place regarding the number of hours children use their devices each day for recreational use (not including homework).
Some of the key points made at the talk were:
– The latest data shows that children aged 3-15 spend on average 5 hours a day on screens which excludes time spent using devices for school work.
– Banning electronic devices from bedrooms at night helps children to sleep better and reduces the excessive number of messages and notifications that they receive as soon as they wake up in the morning (this starts their day in a negative way)
– By the age of 8 years old, children will have spent on average 1 year (of 24 hour days) on recreational media.
– We must not underestimate the importance of sleep for children. 6 – 13 year-olds require 9-11 hours of sleep a night. 14 – 17 year-olds require 8-10 hours of sleep a night. Sleep aids memory consolidation and helps improve academic attainment
– We must encourage children to have increased periods of sustained attention on a single task (not including screens/devices) instead of continuously multitasking.
– As a general guideline, children should spend no more than 2 hours a day on recreational screen time.
– Listening to music when completing academic work is not helpful unless it is music the child is not familiar with/does not enjoy listening to normally (as it is distracting).
– Electronic devices for academic work and social life should never mix (e.g. remove phones while doing homework and try to have separate devices for homework and recreational use).
Dr. Siegment suggested the ideal amount of time for children in each age range is as follows:
- 3 to 7 years: 0.5–1 h per day
- 7 to 12 years: 1 h
- 12 to 15 years: 1.5 h
- 16+ years: 2 h
To help manage screen time, we have come up with the following suggestions:
- Avoid having screens/devices in their bedrooms
- Avoid using screens one hour before bedtime
- Not to have access to social media during homework time
- Download an app to record screen time, they can also disable certain apps, such as social media if you go over the set limit