A recent national survey across the US revealed that children’s use of online media is increasing rapidly each year. On average children between the ages of 8 and 18 are believed to devote seven hours a day to some sort of media entertainment, be it sat at the computer playing video games or watching TV. This should be alarming news to parents and can have long standing effects on a child’s health and concentration levels, often causing a negative effect on their school work. There are important steps that should be taken with regards to just how much time a child should spend on a computer each day.
Children who spend too much time online or playing games often miss out on other fundamental childhood activities, which can affect their intellectual, social and emotional development. As a general rule a child should not be allowed to spend more than two hours a day at the computer. Spending more than this on a regular basis is normally when the negative aspects can start to take an effect.
Take Regular Breaks
Whilst up to two hours a day is acceptable for a child, it should be emphasized that this should not be taken in one long haul. Children should be encouraged to take regular breaks every 20 to 30 minutes. These breaks should last a minimum of 10 minutes and help ensure that both the child’s eyes and brain have a sufficient and necessary break from the screen. Alongside this it is advisable that children should spend at least one or two days a week with no use whatsoever. Although not a necessity this is highly advisable and prevents children from developing a negative routine where their lives are based around the computer.
Time that is spent in front of the computer is precious time taken away from playing with friends, playing outside or even reading a book. Parents should ensure that whatever amount of time is allocated each day to being spent on the computer is matched by the amount of time a child spends playing outside or with their friends. Kids often spend their time on the computer alone and too much time spent alone can often cause social isolation. Having a child that is keen to spend time on the computer is not a bad thing, as it often promotes learning and can fuel kids’ curiosities, just as long as there are firm guidelines ensuring that there is not too much time spent at the screen.
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