Screen technology is great, but children need real interactions with real people, and screen time needs to be controlled.
Have a conversation with the whānau about their screen time. There could be TVs, iPads, phones, computers and video games in the home.
You can use Whakatipu booklet Te Māhuri 2, page 6, to help get the conversation going. It says, ‘We’ve been thinking about how much time we spend on the computer, watching the TV screen …’
Whānau may be wondering about how much screen time is OK for little children. It’s a good conversation to have, and it might need some prompting. Find out if the whānau is engaging with this issue – you could ask if there are any established screen- or device-free times. This might get the whānau talking with each other about the use of screens in their home.
Pātai atu ki te whānau:
- What are your whānau viewing habits and what types of screens are available in your home?
- Do you manage the screen time your tamaiti has?
- If so, how?
- What do you think about using TVs or iPads as ‘babysitters’?
- Do you have any whānau rules about when and how often devices are available?
- Do you manage how much screen time your tamaiti has?
- What about kai time? Are you sitting around the table or sitting around the TV?
- What do you like watching together?
- How does your tamaiti react when you talk about programmes or games with them?
A digital world
Refresh your memory by reading the ‘Digital world’ supporting information.
Everyone seems to have cellphones these days, and many people find online video chatting useful for keeping in touch with whānau and friends. Is this something whānau use?
Pātai atu ki te whānau:
- Have you noticed how many people are using their phones out in the world?
- Do you have any rules or guidelines about how you use your phone?
- Do you need a cellphone?
- How does your tamaiti react when you’re on the phone?
- Do you let them play with your phone?
- If so, what happens when you want it back?
You may wish to discuss with whānau that sometimes children play up when their parents are on the phone a lot. Could it be for attention? How might you feel if the person you love most in the world is often on their phone?
Young children love iPads – and why wouldn’t they? We all do. There are lots of apps for young children, and many can enhance language and cognitive skills.
However, the key is ‘everything in moderation’. To get the conversation going, ask the whānau how much screen time they think is OK (the Canadian paediatricians’ website suggests less than 1 hour per day for 3–5-year olds).
Remember, children need to play with real things and real people in the real world, and they need someone to talk with them, not always at them.