Is screen time an ineffective concept? An analysis in light of research

Children have started playing inside their houses and gadgets are easily accessible these days. Many parents have certain rules regarding screen time to keep things under control.

While setting these rules, parents try to first determine ‘how much screen time is too much’.

Screen time is a widely discussed concern and there has been plenty of research on the topic. The Royal Children’s Hospital 2021 child health poll found too much screen time was parents’ number-one health concern about their kids. More than 90 per cent of surveyed parents said it was a ‘big’ problem or ‘somewhat’ of a problem.

However, on the other hand, Kate Highfields, an early childhood researcher and parent to a four-year-old says ‘If I had magic powers, I would get rid of the concept of screen ‘time’. We need to be talking about screen quality instead.’

Kate’s views on screen time are thought provoking. Children absorb information like a sponge. The 1960’s Bobo Doll experiments by Albert Bandura clearly demonstrated that children learn violent behaviors only through observation.

Keeping that in view, we can safely conclude that 2 hours of quality content is way better than 30 minutes of a violent movie.

It is important for parents to be very aware of the content their child is watching as opposed to how long they watch television.

Here is the content you, as a parent must make sure your child does not watch until a suitable age.

1. Any form of violence including war, domestic violence or fight sequence.

2. Trauma Inducing content which can include death, natural disasters, emotional abuse, display of unhealthy anger.

3. Any content that may induce unhealthy ideations such as hurting other people, using drugs, suicide.

Instead, focus on content specifically created for a specific age group. Shows such as Mario Kart have been specifically designed to enhance fine motor skills and shows like Numberblocks induce an interest in numbers.

The key is to be seamlessly but actively involved into what your children are watching. The process has to be natural so the child does not feel like they are being controlled.

Always make sure to talk about what they watched and how it made them feel. Whether they were intrigued, bored or caught something negative off of the content. This will also help you in tweaking your screen strategy in accordance to your childs preference.