Posts

Screen Time for Children – How Much is Too Much?

Screen time for children - how much is too much?

Is screen time healthy for children?Recent studies show that use of connected screens and devices by children, including under-fives, is growing fast. The pandemic appears to have increased kids’ screen use too, as children have spent more time indoors and less time playing ‘in person’ with friends.

The big question for parents is: is all this screen time healthy for children? In this article, we’ll take a look …

First, Some Recent Statistics

According to Childwise, the leading research experts for children and young people, children are spending more and more time on connected devices. These are devices like mobiles, tablets, smart TVs, virtual assistants like Alexa and so on. Most feature a screen but all can connect to the Internet, to other devices and/or to people via Wi-Fi or data connection.

Here’s what the recent research has to say about children’s use of connected devices:

  • 50% of all children aged between 5 and 10 own a mobile.
  • Nearly three-quarters (73%) of all children own a mobile, with the majority of them having one by the time they’re 7. Pretty much all of them are mobile phone owners by the age of 11.
  • Over 75% of under fives have access to a connected deviceOver 75% of children under five have access to a connected device, with up to 60% of preschoolers actually owning their own.
  • Under-fives were found to be using tablets on average for 9 hours a week.
  • Over a quarter of preschoolers were also found to have access to games consoles.
  • 83% of children have access to the Internet in their bedrooms.
  • Over half of children surveyed stated that they kept their phone next to their bed when sleeping.
  • 11 and 12-year-olds spend, on average, 4.2 hours per day online. This has grown significantly since the preceding year’s report, when it was 3.3 hours per day.
  • Over a quarter of all children surveyed are spending 4 to 6 hours per day online.
  • Children are watching, on average, 3.3 hours (under five: 3 hours) of video content every day, with TikTok and YouTube being their favourite video platforms.
  • The number of homes with a virtual assistant (e.g. Alexa etc.) has risen to 39%.
  • Due to the Pandemic, 45% of school children surveyed said they were worried that they might be falling behind at school, while 62% said that they were feeling lonely.

Most figures in the surveys had increased in the last 12 months, although there were occasional exceptions.

Are Parents Choosing the Content Their Children Access?

According to findings of the research, half of preschoolers found online content without parental input and 60% of children aged 3 to 4 are more than capable of deciding which apps they wanted to use.

Toddlers now confidently navigate digital platforms and use touchscreen devices unaided“Parents have always played a huge role in curating what [under-fives] consume and how their time is spent, but toddlers are now confidently navigating digital platforms for themselves, and using touchscreen devices with purpose and determination.” (Childwise)

Is Screen Time All Bad?

It’s generally accepted that too much screen time for children is not healthy for them. There are many reasons for this and we explore a few of the issues below …

  • Children need to keep fit and active rather than spending too much time inactive, in front of electronic screens. Exercise is incredibly important for children, whether they’re under five or older.
  • Also, it’s not healthy for them to disengage from the real world too much. Few ‘real world’ skills like physical, social interactions and honing of gross motor skills are possible when reliance is placed only on the virtual world through handheld and connected devices.
  • Screen time undertaken close to bedtime is also known to be a brain stimulant and that can adversely affect sleep patterns and the quality of sleep. This, in turn, can adversely affect concentration and energy levels and ultimately their ability to function and to learn optimally.
  • Some medical professionals and scientists say Some medical professionals and scientists say that the ‘RF wireless radiation’ emitted by Wi-Fi connected screens and devices may carry potential health risksthat the ‘RF wireless radiation’ emitted by Wi-Fi connected screens and devices may carry potential health risks particularly, they argue, for pregnant women, their unborn foetuses and the young. The very young, of course, have brains that are still at a critical development stage. For this reason, the experts concerned advocate that access to devices like mobile phones should be limited, removed from children’s bedrooms at night or, at the very least, placed in Flight Mode when possible. Using devices wired instead of using Wi-Fi apparently reduces risks. Use of them in hands-free mode is another useful approach, so that the devices are not so close to youngsters’ heads. We’re not experts ourselves, but these measures seem like sensible precautions.
  • Given the statistics about children, even toddlers, being able to access what they want on connected devices, some automatic Parental Controls would also seem sensible. For example, software from security companies like Norton allow great control over which websites can or can’t be accessed by children, and for how long.

“The battle to forge a healthy digital lifestyle is now a very real consideration for parents” (Childwise).

Parents need to control online content to safeguard childrenWhile time spent by children on connected screens and devices is rising, it’s not all bad news. The pandemic has also seen an increase in the time that parents have been spending with children, including on shared screen viewing as well as on other pastimes like baking, crafts and family activities. At the end of the day, it’s all about a healthy balance and, of course, adult supervision to ensure children’s wellbeing at all times.

Indeed, despite the sometimes alarming statistics, parents are in a prime position to influence what their children are exposed to on screens and connected devices. As such, that’s a golden opportunity to encourage content that’s not only stimulating and fun, but also educational. Programmes about nature or science are obvious examples, but there are many others.

Technology & Screen Time at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

When it comes to screen time for under-fives at Little Cedars Nursery, we understand both the benefits and the pitfalls. Technology has a great many benefits when used correctly and indeed is part of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum at the nursery. However, for obvious reasons, any time spent online or with electronic screens is stringently monitored and controlled by our childcare professionals. We aim to maximise the positive benefits of technology, while at the same time keeping children as safe as possible. We also, of course, know the importance of physical activities and active play at the setting so, at the end of the day, it’s about getting the balance right.

Nursery Places in Streatham, Near Furzedown, Balham & Tooting

If yLittle Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park. Tooting, Furzedown & Balhamou are looking for a high quality nursery or pre-school place for your baby or child in and around Streatham, please do consider Little Cedars Nursery. We’re in Aldrington Road, SW16, so we’re also suitable for those looking for nurseries and pre-schools near to Furzedown, Balham, Tooting, Streatham Common, Streatham Hill and Streatham Park. Please choose a contact option below to get in touch:

Our Anti-COVID Measures as we Re-open the Nursery

Our Anti-COVID Measures as we Re-open the Nursery
On  June 1st, we re-opened Little Cedars Nursery at its Aldrington Road setting in Streatham, London SW16 1TU. Our thanks go to staff at our sister nursery, Beechcroft Nursery, for joining forces with us during the lock-down, to look after children of key workers alongside us. It’s wonderful to be back, though, as we can welcome old faces and new to our Streatham nursery and pre-school.

In view of the Government only recently easing the lock-down restrictions and with coronavirus still potentially at large, we have implemented stringent new health and safety measures at the nursery. These are being implemented to safeguard the health and wellbeing of babies, children, parents and staff.

“Everyone’s health is our topmost priority.”

Health & safety measures to keep you & your child safe from COVID-19

Here, we’ll outline what we are doing to keep you, you child and everyone at the nursery safe and well. These measures go well beyond Government guidelines and may be of comfort to those parents who are, understandably, a little nervous of sending their little ones back to nursery or pre-school so soon after lock-down.

Social distancing & extensive use of outdoor spaces

Moving much of the curriculum to our large outdoor areas will significantly reduce the risks that would otherwise be associated with more confined, indoor spaces. Outside, children are naturally going to have more room to themselves and the air they breathe will be cleaner – and will disperse to the atmosphere naturally. And, of course, we are ensuring everyone maintains good social distancing generally. Outside, we have made sure that there are sufficient covered areas outside to protect children and staff from the weather.

Small ‘bubble’ groups

We are also keeping babies and children within small ‘bubble’ groups. This will ensure that they are mixing with only a tiny number of individuals on a day-to-day basis. This vastly reduces the risks of catching contagions from one another. The bubble groups will be a size of 3, 4 or 6 children, depending upon the age group they fall into.

Limited numbers

Another excellent safeguarding measure is to limit the number of people attending the setting. For this reason, we will not take the nursery to full capacity while coronavirus is still at large. Again, this ensures that children and staff mix with as few people as possible.

Temperature checking

Temperatures of staff and children will be checked from time to time, as appropriate, using zero-contact electronic thermometers. That will allow us to get the earliest indication should someone begin to exhibit symptoms. We would then be able to take appropriate action i.e. to ensure that the symptomatic person isolates themselves at home rather than continuing to attend the nursery.

Track & Trace

In the unlikely event that anyone at the nursery does begin to exhibit possible symptoms of coronavirus, we will follow the Government’s Track & Trace policy. Anyone affected will be asked to take a test. They and their ‘bubble’ group will be required to self-isolate until the potential danger has passed. This will minimise the risk of the virus spreading to others.

New drop-off & collection rules for parents

We are asking parents to stagger their drop-off and collection times so that they encounter the minimum number of other people whilst doing so. Parents will not be granted entry to the nursery at the current time, so they must remain outside. While waiting, they will be required to keep a minimum of 2 metres away from others at all times.

New safety protocols for staff

Along with orchestrating the measures above, nursery staff will also be taking additional steps as part of their day-to-day precautions. These include:

  • Liberal use of antimicrobial wipes for equipment, surfaces, door handles, toys, etc.;
  • A change of clothes when they first arrive at the nursery in the morning, to ensure uniforms are fresh;
  • free of bacteria and viruses;
  • Wearing of face shields and double-gloving when changing nappies;
  • Wearing of top quality, medically approved ‘FPP3’ face masks whenever appropriate.

Special precautions for food and snacks

Our in-house chefs are already taking additional precautions when preparing food for the children. As well as the standard hygiene protocols that one would expect, the new measures include the wearing of masks and face visors when preparing food. This keeps meals and snacks pristine.

These measures put the health and safety of children, parents and staff first. We hope they put your mind at rest if you were at all tentative about your baby or child attending (or re-attending if you’re one of our existing families). Do, of course, get in contact with us if you’d like further reassurance.

Does your baby or child need childcare in the Streatham area?

If your baby or child needs a nursery/preschool place in the Streatham area of south-west London, we would be very happy to discuss this with you. We’d welcome the opportunity of telling you more details about the exceptional childcare services at the nursery, our ethos and all the amazing facilities available. Call 020 8677 9675 or email our manager here. We’ll be delighted to hear from you.