The worry of too much screen time for children over the summer holidays

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Over the long holidays I’m worried my child will want to spend too much time in front of a screen - what’s the right balance?

We have the challenge that, if left to make their own choices, most children might choose to spend a significant amount of time on screens during the summer.

Screens are part of our children's present and future and we know that they have to learn to regulate their own screen use. If children have no exposure, they might not learn to be responsible. The risk of over-exposure, however, both in terms of time and content, is real and needs to be a priority for every parent.

The questions below are good starting point for parents:

- What is my child NOT doing when spending time on screens? 'What is the effect on my child's mood and behaviour or family relationships?

- When deciding about the appropriateness of a game/app, evaluate the moral messages, levels of violence and age restrictions.

- Can my child step away from the screen or a particular game?

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- Can my child overcome boredom on his/her own?

- If my child is interacting with others online/through games, is this communication mostly positive or negative?

Screens have many positive uses and children should learn to use them appropriately. At ACS, children use iPads in classrooms from the age of four, as a positive learning tool. We also teach students how to use it safely and to control the amount of time they spend using technology.

I often remind myself as a parent, that my job is not to be a facilitator of my children's happiness, but to teach what is right, as well as to give them the opportunity to work through boredom and unlock that creative energy that will be invaluable later on in life.

What better a time to invest in letting our children have the freedom to play, grow and learn to overcome boredom than during the summer months ahead of us!

Anneke Theron is Lower School Counsellor at ACS Cobham International School. Don't forget to follow @acscobhamschool and #acscobhamlife to see the latest from the school.

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