modular monthly blog post header NL
28 aug

Too keen on the screen?

Screen time.

It’s a difficult theme for almost any parent. This edition of the Modular Monthly newsletter gives you answers to important questions.
What are the main worries parents like you have? How much time a day do kids actually spend staring at pixels? What are the warning signs to know if your child is negatively impacted by screens? How can your family use tech devices in a healthy way? Discover all the answers below. 

Shared worries

The main worries for parents are: the stifling of creative skills, lack of exercise and interference with social skills. All reasonable concerns when it comes to kids and screens. 
 
These worries are immediately identifiable for most of us, with kids at any age. Whether it’s a 3 year old exploding when taking the iPad away, or a 12 year old glued to a game console. 
 
In parenting we can usually ask ourselves the question: What did our parents do? But when we were young, we were lucky to get a Nintendo at some point. Technology was not at all embedded in our daily lives like it is today. We have to manage without examples of a previous generation.
 
We face an abundance of digital material aimed at children. YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, you name it. A huge parenting challenge. But how much hours a week do kids actually spend on devices? Let’s check out this graph to get some clarity.

As shown in the graph, kids spend most of their time on screen-based play. Other activities take a backseat. With our own youth in mind, no wonder we worry. Because where did the creativity go? Building, drawing, tinkering and being proud of your creation?

This graph is pre-COVID 19. With lockdowns occurring in several places, the screen time issue has become even more relevant. Digital classes, video calls with family and less outside play. Screen time limits may end up in the trash in these situations.

When searching for guidance on screen time, you risk drowning in a pool of contradicting advises. Sources are far from unambiguous when you want to know how many hours of screen time is ‘healthy’ for your kids.

Since this is a relatively young topic, research is not always clear or well-conducted. That’s why we only focus on the conclusions of scientific research that brings clear results.

The learnings

We start with the most important learning. One that could relieve your stress from the screen time struggle. The way screens are used is more important than the length behind them.

Studies by the University of Michigan conclude this (2019). What matters is if children’s use of devices causes problems. How do you know if your child is negatively influenced?

Six warning signs:

  1. No control. A child can’t stop using a screen.
  2. Preoccupation. It’s the only thing they seem to think about.
  3. Loss of interest in other things, no motivation.
  4. Causing family problems. Conflicts arise.
  5. Withdrawal. Frustration occurs when not allowed on screen.
  6. Tolerance. Amount of time on screens keeps increasing.

Another important aspect is the kind of media children consume online. Actively solving puzzles or learning a language beats passively watching Youtube and scrolling Instagram. Or how about studying an Infento digital manual to build a Ride? 😉

Involvement of the parents is vital. Not only by setting reasonable rules on screen time. Know what your kids are up to online. Best is to use screens together as a family instead of individually. Screens are not a solution to calm down an upset child. That would link screens with ‘soothing’ in the young brain.

The points above do not apply to kids under the age of 3 years. Canadian research (University of Calgary, 2019) proves that a lot of screen time at a young age is linked to delays in development. The WHO takes it a step further and advices limited or no screen time for kids under 5 years.

We hope this article gave you new insights. There are no hour restrictions you can apply to every child. It differs with age and it matters a lot what they do behind the screen. The advice we can add for parents and kids is simple: sit less, play more! Switch off those screens to spend quality time together. Go outside. Be creative. Build, ride and dream!  

Johann from Switzerland is the proud father of these three boys. He started with an Infento Master Kit already in 2016, for his first child Leonardo. After his second and third son were born, he purchased the Legend Kit to have more parts available. 

“Out of curiosity we built the Go-Kart. Even though Leonardo was officially too small at this age, he could easily drive it. Then I made a sort of cage wagon with some additional parts. Now Sebastian could drive together with Leonardo. Both had a lot of fun. And now our youngest Frederic is sitting inside the wagon and Sebastian rides the Tornado. The Tornado can be connected or disconnected from the ‘train’. Even their Mami likes it.”

Are there more kids on the way, Johann? We’re sure you would be able to extend your Infento family train! 😉 

What is keeping you from making something special yourself? You can do it. No need to be an engineer! The satisfaction of making your own Ride beats a computer game or Netflix series at all times. Especially when you involve your kids and see their proud smiles. ‘We made this. Together!’
 
Please share your creativity with us on social or email us. Send an old school carrier pigeon to our headquarters if preferred. This way you are able to inspire other builders in the Infento Community! #infento #sharingiscaring