7.5.2024 / General

Healthy screen time and children learning in the digital world

It’s impressive to see how our children are growing into a new, more digital world and learning to harness its many opportunities. Exposure to technology at an early age can help develop important skills for future employment, as children learn digital literacy and how to navigate various interfaces. At the same time, the potential harms of using digital devices are widely discussed, and it’s true that excessive screen time can negatively affect not only a growing child, but also the health of us adults.

However, the digital world can also offer genuinely educational content when used wisely and correctly. Useful digital content, such as educational and engaging content like Vegemi, can promote learning, creativity, new skills, and concepts in an exciting way. With Vegemi, one can learn about vegetables and their health benefits – Vegemi aims to maintain health, increase vegetable consumption, and accumulate knowledge. For example, interactive mathematics or language programs can develop academic skills, while other applications encourage creative expression through drawing, photography, or music.

Gamification can increase users’ motivation to learn and achieve goals. And screen time also has its place as a form of entertainment, which can help relax and have fun – those are important skills too!

Screen time itself refers to all the time we spend in front of various electronic devices, such as smartphones, computers, or game consoles – including Vegemi! Watching television and using the phone for activities like browsing social media, watching videos, and gaming also count as screen time. Some screen time involves light entertainment, as well as school or other important activities.

Guided by an adult and considering the child’s age

In order to keep a child’s screen time in check and healthy, it’s important for us educators to set limits on screen time and balance it with other aspects of life, such as physical activity, play, and sleep. It’s beneficial to openly and respectfully discuss the importance of screen time with the child and agree on screen time rules together. This way, the child understands what is expected of them, making it easier for them to follow the rules.

Excessive screen time strains the eyes, can lead to reduced physical activity, thereby increasing health problems, and can negatively affect a child’s or adolescent’s mood and social relationships, as well as disrupt cognitive skills. A child who spends a lot of time in front of a screen should be reminded to play outside, read, or draw – just like Vegemi spends a lot of time adventuring!

Appropriate screen time for children has been extensively studied from the perspectives of development and media use effects. Every child is unique, and the appropriate screen time varies. It’s essential to consider the child’s age and ensure that the media content is safe and supportive of the child’s learning.

Generally, the recommendation is that screen time for 2-5-year-olds should be less than an hour a day, while school-aged children are recommended to have about two hours of screen time per day. 6-12-year-olds and teenagers can have more screen time, provided that other activities are included in the day. However, children under 2 years old benefit most from face-to-face interaction, so screen time is not recommended for them at all.

The impact of screen time on sleep

Sleep is like magic for our brains, and its importance cannot be overstated. Sleep helps the brain rest and grow strong, so it’s important to go to bed on time and give the body the rest it deserves. It’s also good to establish routines for children before bedtime that promote relaxation and preparation for sleep.

Screen time should end at least an hour before bedtime by reading books or doing other relaxing activities. Screen devices, such as smartphones, emit blue light, which can disrupt the body’s natural sleep cycle, make it difficult to fall asleep, diminish sleep quality, and lead to sleep disorders. Excessive screen time can lead to decreased sleep duration if it replaces time that could be spent sleeping. Therefore, it’s recommended to limit screen time before bedtime.

Vegemi was founded in Finland, and also partakes in collaboration with the SSO supermarket chain.

The project is financed as part of the measures implemented by the European Union due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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