There is growing concern that an excessive amount of screen time for preschoolers is contributing to a lack of school readiness for many preschool aged children.
While a limited amount of screen time can be educational, the impact of excessive screen time can affect behaviour, disrupt sleep patterns, reduce attention span and undermine the development of fine motor skills.
One in five Australian children start school with developmental deficits according to the latest Australian Early Childhood Census and a poor start in the early years can lead to life-long disadvantage.
The risk of screen-time for preschoolers
Too much screen time can have an impact on children’s language development and social skills. This is because children need real-life interactions to develop these skills. Too much screen time can also affect the development of older children. For example, it can affect their ability to have conversations, maintain eye contact, pay attention in school or read body language.
In addition, an excess of screen time can also result in children missing out on developing a wide range of interests, and the friends and learning associated with these interests.
It’s not about no screen-time –it’s screen time AND other activities. Young children learn through interactions with people of all ages and hands-on creative activities and play. While some screen time can augment and support learning, it is not suitable as the primary method for learning fine motor skills or interacting with people.
Why limiting screen time is important
It’s understandable that in our busy lives with parents feeling pressured, needing to maintain their own connections and peer networks (whether that be in an office or public spaces such as cafes and restaurants) and to travel, that often the easiest way to keep kids occupied (or distracted) is to give them a screen to play with. The important thing when making this choice is understanding the impact and ensuring that there are other activities that are providing the developmental support that kids need.
An SMH article gave some key insights:
“Because [screens] are mobile they are able to be taken anywhere, which increases their use and can be key in displacing other activities and engaging with others,”Kate Highfield, Lecturer, Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University.“Because [screens] are mobile they are able to be taken anywhere, which increases their use and can be key in displacing other activities and engaging with others,” says Kate Highfield, a lecturer at the Institute of Early Childhood at Macquarie University.
“Her research found 85 per cent of the apps purchased for children were just repetitive “drill and practice” apps that asked children to repeat an action or recall simple facts.””Rather than encouraging problem solving, creative and independent thinking and the development of mature thought processes, “these “consumption” based apps led to lower-level neural development while excessive in-game rewarding led to unrealistic expectations.”
Shapeeze® – an antidote to screen time
Shapeeze is designed to build fine motor skills and promote school readiness. This new product has been specifically designed so children can play and interact with it, with minimum supervision and input from parents or carers as and when required. It encourages and develops independent learning and thinking.
With a range of activities and all the necessary /accessories in one kit, children have a scissor-free mobile activity suitable for travel, visits to cafes and restaurants or at home.
Shapeeze provides a creative, play based activity that is educational and fun. As one of our test families commented:
“I wanted to let you know how much enjoyment May has had from the Shapeeze you gave her!! It is marvellous – for my crafty 3 1/2 year old it’s been such a winner! I think it’s something we could do again in 6-12 months time when I know she would approach it differently but still enjoy it immensely!”
You are encouraged to share this post with your network via your preferred platform or to reprint the content without changes. If you wish to reprint, please include this information – Shared with permission of Simone Crighton, Shapeeze® Creator www .shapeeze.com.au