In the digital age, how much screen time is too much, and how does it affect your child’s development? If you’re looking for ways to reduce screen time for your child, using educational toys can help.
What’s the recommended limit for screen time among young children?
Australian children are exceeding the recommended two-hour daily screen time limit with up to 30% of a child’s waking time spent in front of a television, computer, or mobile screen, according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
AIFS found that children between four to five years old average more than two hours of screen time per week-day while children aged 12 to 13 average more than three hours per week-day and nearly four hours per weekend day.
With kids having easy access to screens more than ever, how exactly does screen time affect early childhood development?
Dr. Jennifer F. Cross of New York-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital says that when young children spend most of their waking time playing with a smartphone or watching television, it can be more challenging to get them engaged in non-electronic activities like playing outdoors, or playing with other children to develop their social skills.
Further excessive screen time may inhibit their ability to observe or participate in normal day-to-day activities that can help them prepare for adult life, which can have a negative impact on their overall development.
Early data from a 2018 National Institutes of Health (NIH) study suggests that children who spent more than two hours on screen time activities per day scored lower on thinking and language tests while those that got more than seven hours of screen time per day exhibited a thinning of the brain’s cortex, which is the area of the brain associated with reasoning and critical thinking.
These findings are troubling, but fortunately parents can use educational toys to reduce screen time while keeping their children engaged.
Why use educational toys to reduce screen time?
Toys are more than just fun and games – they can also provide opportunities for young children to learn. Educational toys can engage the senses, spark the imagination, and encourage social interaction. Young children are eager to learn about their environment. Each new shape, colour, texture, scent, and sound is a revelation. Providing them with safe and stimulating toys will engage them and aid in their development.
Tips for reducing screen time with educational toys
- Choose the right toys – When choosing new toys or deciding which toys to keep, keep in mind that simple is better. The open-ended educational toys can help foster imagination and creativity compared with closed-ended toys with specific and definite designs and outcomes. Wooden blocks, for example, have an open design that encourages children to explore different possibilities during playtime.
- Create a fun and engaging environment – Create a vibrant and appealing environment for your children. Organise their play space in a way that’s engaging but orderly. Make sure all toys, books, crayons, and other materials are easily accessible to your child.
- You should also have sufficient storage space so you can put away any toys or materials that they’re not using. This will also help you create a balance between offering enough toy choices, but not so many that your child feels overstimulated or overwhelmed. Our educational toys on rotation to prevent clutter and to keep things fresh.
- If you have outdoor space or an open floor plan, find out how you can design and maximise the area for your child’s play time.
- Encourage independent or self-directed play – Self-directed play refers to the kind of play that is initiated, chosen, and directed by the child. This encourages children to explore their imagination and find ways to entertain themselves. This also eases the pressure on parents and care providers who don’t have to be the source or initiator of entertainment.
Teachers Choice offers an array of high-quality educational wooden toys. Browse our store today for bright, colourful toys to help you reduce your child’s screen time.