The right amount of screen time for children has long been a struggle for many parents. How much television or iPad time can we give our children is a common question amongst families. As with all things it is different for everyone, but screen time can definitely be beneficial in small doses as some shows have many benefits such as social and emotional, language and communication, as well as physical and cognitive skills.
Social emotional benefits:
- Shows with main characters that are kind, courageous and all sorts of varying personalities can teach children ways to deal and cope with hard situations. For instance, many shows have episodes that touch on concepts such as starting school, welcoming a new sibling, first hospital visit and more.
Language & communication:
- Screen time has been proven to aid children in their vocabulary acquisition and language development, just like books do. This is true because there are visual representations of what is being communicated and spoken.
- It is a great entry point when trying to connect with children. Movies, shows and games can be a great conversation starter. You can always link the things happening on screen with real-life events.
- By talking to children about the shows they like and debriefing episodes they have just seen are simple ways to build communication skills while making screen time a meaningful shared experience.
- A lot of the programming out there can encourage thinking, learning, problem-solving, and even things like paying attention and remembering which are all cognitive skills that can be strengthened.
Movement and Physical benefits:
- One of the main arguments against screen time is to prevent child obesity, which is a legitimate concern as physical movement and going outdoors are two very important factors in a child’s day. However, as long as these things are prioritised and not lost, screen time doesn’t have to be an issue.
- Several programs out there do integrate movement such as kids yoga, games that encourage fine motor skills and sing alongs with motion.
In summary, try to prioritise quality over quantity. Simply take these factors into consideration when selecting screen time content, whether it’s a show, an app, or a game:
- Educational value,
- Age appropriateness
- Behavioural influence.
All in all, if you know why you are doing it there really is no reason to beat yourself up for putting your child in front of the TV (or iPad) for a little while, and you really won’t have to if it is one of these shows which we recommend below. These have been tried and tested with some of our children at home, both educational and fun! They can really ignite children’s curiosity.
Our Favourites that can be found easily on Youtube or Netflix:
2-4 Years Old
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
- Kipper the dog
- Blue’s Clues
- Curious George
- Lily’s Driftwood Bay
3-6 Years Old
- Dora the Explorer
- Dinosaur Train
- Beat bugs
- Puffin Rock
- Gabby’s Dollhouse