Three constructive ways to help your child use screen time
Children learn better when they are having fun, when their levels of focus and motivation are at their peak. Here is how you can use their playful nature as a clever tool for learning.
By Chloe Tonkin.
A lot of children love the thrill and adventure of a digital game. In fact, digital games accounted for more than half of the entire UK gaming market in 2018, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association’s most recent report. With careful management, a love of gaming can be used as a clever tool for learning. By combining your child’s screen time with learning, you solve any conflict by meeting them halfway. You also ensure that any screen time they do have is productive and useful.
Although there are a lot of advantages to digital learning, it can still be a challenge to find the right content and set healthy limits.
Here are our top three tips for helping your child utilise screen time in a positive way.
1. Find the right content and manage your settings
We all know that we have to keep an eye on what our children have access to via any tablet, phone or computer they use regularly. There are lots of online guides about how to set up parental controls, such as on the Apple website, WikiHow and the NSPCC website. With so many apps and games available to download, take the time to seek out quality games for your child that are both educational and enjoyable. It is important to consider what interests your child as an individual so that they actually use the game and learn something. If not, your child is unlikely to make much progress. Have fun testing out different games and apps to see which work best.
Norwegian educationalist and psychologist Alf Kristian Kåring vouches for the learn-to-read game Poio (available in English, Swedish and Norwegian) as a good example of a quality game for children. He has been playing it with his son, and says, “All parts of the game are well developed, and it’s obvious that someone who knows how to teach language well has created it. Quality is important to me, and that’s why I have become especially fond of Poio.”
The app has helped more than 100,000 children learn how to read, and 85% of parents report a significant positive impact on their child’s literacy learning.*
2. Be engaged as a parent
Although it’s important for your child to explore and figure things out on their own within the games they play, there are lots of benefits to making screen time an activity you enjoy together.
Learning through play can be very effective, especially when it involves more than one person. World-famous toy company LEGO has even funded a study into what can be gained by learning through play, stating that, “Finally, although play and learning can happen on one’s own, a powerful context for both learning and play is social interaction. Through the processes of sharing one’s own mind, understanding others through direct interaction, and communicating ideas, children are not only able to enjoy being with others, but also build a deeper understanding and more powerful relationships.” (Page 27).
Playing and talking with your child helps them to learn more effectively, helping them to remember better and put everything into context. It also makes it easier to keep track of what they are accessing, and gives you some quality time together which can be particularly important for time-poor parents. For those moments when you just can’t be there, Poio will send you reports and tips so that you can still monitor your child’s progress.
3. Set clear rules
While there is no definite answer to exactly how long children should spend in front of a screen, it is important to set limits and practice good habits. Set your own rules for how long your child is allowed to sit in front of a screen each day, and make sure you stick to them. Get into a good routine, such as making sure all phones and tablets are put away during meal times. Another easy rule to follow, which will help your child to get a good night’s sleep, is to turn off any phones or tablets for at least an hour before bed time. This can be beneficial to your quality of sleep too.
*From study surveying more than 4,000 parents who use Poio with their children.
Poio has helped more than 100,000 children aged 3-8 years crack the reading code through play.