Screen Time: the Scourge of Modern Society?

March 8th, 2016 by

screen time

Screen time is a minefield for modern parents. Smartphones, laptops, and tablets haven’t been around long enough for any long-term studies to be conducted on individuals who have grown up with them, so we still don’t know the full impact of technology on developing brains. However, anyone who has spent any time around a toddler with an iPad knows that screens have a powerful hold on children.

So, what do we know about technology and children? Multiple studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to problems with attention, difficulties in school, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. Furthermore, internet addiction is associated with structural changes in brain regions that involve emotional processing, attention, decision making, and cognitive control.

The average American child spends more than seven hours a day looking at screens; this is considered fairly normal by current standards. Because of this, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently refined its guidelines regarding screen time to reflect a more nuanced approach to technology.

Previously, it recommended that children under age three have absolutely no exposure to screens, and older children no more than two hours per day. Many parents found these guidelines impossible to follow. These days, the guidelines follow a much more common-sense approach; parents should limit children’s screen time and always offer educational media in non-electronic formats first. They should also establish “screen-free” zones at home. There should be no televisions, computers, or video games allowed in children’s bedrooms; this will help parents monitor exactly what their kids are doing online as well as avoid problems with childhood sleep disorders.

At the Nanny Authority, our clients are comprised primarily of parents who do not allow their children access to screens, and in fact look exclusively for caregivers who can engage their children without the help of televisions or tablets. One of the many reasons our clients seek out nanny placement services to help them with their childcare needs is that they want to feel completely assured that their chosen nanny will have a strong enough childcare background to keep their children busy with developmental, educational, and physical activities, and not simply sit them down in front of the TV.

This is not to say that screens are evil, or that there aren’t developmentally appropriate activities that can be supplemented with the use of an app or computer program. The most important rule for screens is to use them wisely. Tablets, smartphones, and computers are ubiquitous in our society today; it’s nigh-impossible to avoid them entirely.

Parents and nannies should always be sure to place heavy emphasis on in-person interactions and imagination-based free play. Children learn best by interacting with other people—not by passively watching what happens on a screen.

Nanny Placement Services for Screen-Free Childcare

So, parents—are you ready to meet a technology-conscious caregiver? At the Nanny Authority, we interview every candidate to make sure he or she has the experience necessary to work in a technology-limited or screen-free home. We advise all candidates to have a repertoire of fun and educational activities to do with their charges.

We also advise any parents who feel strongly about their children’s media consumption to be sure to speak with their prospective nanny about technology. A good nanny will follow the rules of her employer’s household to the letter; many parents include a stipulation in their nanny contracts that outlines appropriate uses of technology.

Contact us today to find the perfect nanny for your family!