Back in the day, the only worry on most parents’ minds was convincing their kids to come home before dark. Nowadays, parents are faced with the issue of keeping their children active and social despite the many distractions and temptations that surround them as part of daily life. Technology is indeed designed to make our lives easier and more enjoyable, but it can also have a negative effect on our children’s development if it infiltrates their lives too soon or too frequently.
According to the Mayo Clinic, too much poor-quality screen time has been linked to obesity, sleep-related problems, aggression, behavioural issues, and a lack of social skills.
Limiting screen time
Ultimately, keeping kids away from screens altogether is a losing battle. The reality is that they are growing up surrounded by technology and the chances are good that it will always be a significant part of their lives. The key to raising healthy, well-adjusted children lies in monitoring the amount of screen time to which they are exposed and to ensure that the right type of content appears on those screens.
But how much screen time is ‘too much’? The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry does not advise any screen time until a child reaches between 18 and 24 months of age. When they are between the ages of two and five, the AACAP recommends that screen time should be limited to around one hour of quality programming and/or games on weekdays and three hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Most paediatricians recommend no more than two hours of screen time for older children and suggest that parents of teenagers encourage at least 15 minutes of physical activity for every hour spent in front of a TV, tablet, smartphone, or gaming console each day.
How to choose the right edutainment at home and on the road
Both Netflix and YouTube are packed full of educational shows for children of all ages, from Blippi and Super Simple Songs to The Magic School Bus and more. You are sure to find a variety of educational apps – a far better choice data-wise if you are planning a road trip for the December holidays.
Keeping the kids away from TVs and tablets can prove challenging at the best of times. On a road trip? Even more so! With the passing landscapes and a few age-old car games acting as the only forms of entertainment for hours on end, even the most creative kids are bound to be bored to tears eventually. Not only will a great app or kids’ show help to eliminate the boredom, but it will also help parents retain their sanity by reducing the number of ‘are-we-there-yets’ that they will have to endure along the way. The question is, do you have to be just as strict regarding screen time during your travels? Or is it alright to relax the rules just a little bit for everyone’s sake?
While it is vital to keep a close eye on your children’s screen time at home, allowing them a bit of an indulgence on a special occasion, or when other forms of stimulation are in short supply, will be unlikely to negatively impact their development.
Do some research and download a few educational apps, being mindful of how much space they take up on your phone’s hard drive and how much data they use. Also be aware that while most kids’ apps are free to play, they do serve up countless ads that can prove disruptive and downright annoying.
If you are looking for quality edutainment that doesn’t cost a thing to download or play, is 100% ad-free, and won’t use up much memory on your phone, be sure to choose Wimpy’s World of Animals. Purchase a Kids’ Combo Meal during an Engen Wimpy pitstop on your travel route and your little adventurer will get a free set of augmented reality cards. With the help of the accompanying AR app, the animals featured on the cards come to life on the screen right before their eyes – and, best of all, the kids can interact with them too! When viewing the animals on the screen, they will also be exposed to interesting facts about them, making the app as educational as it is entertaining.
Here’s to a happy, educational holiday that promises plenty of opportunities to make lasting memories and to learn new things – both on the family road trip and beyond!
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