Gone are the days where toy dinosaurs were enough to pass kids' time. Screens have largely taken over what were once conventional playtime activities. Today, young ones draw with a stylus instead of a pencil, dress up digital dolls and play with virtual monsters.
Although many parents are privy to the effects of too much screen time, research from the University of Auckland has confirmed the link between on-screen overdoses and potentially harmful consequences for children.
The research shows that two-year-olds who exceed the recommended hour a day of screen time are more likely to experience health and behavioural problems before reaching school age.
During the school holidays, it can be especially difficult to keep tabs on device usage. Parents should create structured, healthy digital habits that fit with their family framework, and implement some easy tips to foster a positive relationship between tots and technology.
Guide kids to good content
Google's Family Link is a saviour for parents wanting more control over their children's screen time. Parents can approve or block apps their kid wants to download through the Google Play store, and can download positive, educational apps directly to their child's device.
Monitor screen time
If surrendering for the sake of avoiding a tantrum is becoming all-too-common, Family Link allows adults to set a device "bedtime" as well as specific time limits. Parents can also remotely lock devices, meaning parental power is restored.
Set a good example
Parents who are constantly plugged in are not sending a healthy message to their kids. By finding more ways to press the pause button, it shows children the importance of connecting face-to-face and spending time doing activities away from screens. Never doubt the importance of a good old digital detox.
Foster face-to-face conversation
Stress the importance of talking it out - irl ('in real life' for people over the age of 30). Make sure to engage kids in fun and productive conversations to remind them that family time can still be fun. Making a habit of eating dinner as a family around the table is an easy way to schedule in face-to-face conversation, instead of huddling behind Netflix.