Much has been written recently about the amount of screen time that children have and almost always the adult population express disbelief and horror. We think the grown-ups are either being disingenuous or they are completely out of touch.
It’s true that our survey revealed that about a third of children have over 4 hours of screen time a day but is that really surprising? For the benefit of old and young alike, we’ll take a look at why children spend so much time screen-watching but first we had better deal with the health and safety issues…
We like the approach of Raising Children.net who DON’T set a time limit on how much is too much. Instead they provide a sensible checklist and if the child is sleeping enough, engaged with school, having fun and learning while using screens, etc. they conclude that all is well.
A word of warning though. Tiny screens (smartphone size) can cause blurred vision, headaches, sore eyes, headaches, muscle strain and dry eyes but don’t despair there is a remedy. Your Sight Matters suggest what they call the “20-20-20” rule as follows: Every 20 minutes, stare at something that is 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Following the rule should allow you to avoid problems whilst enjoying all the wonderful attributes of the modern-day smartphone.
How often do we hear adults say something like, “There wasn’t the amount of screens in my youth and we did alright”? That’s true but what a lot of fun and excitement they missed. Maybe they are just jealous of modern youngsters - we’ll compare then and now to rub it in to the adults just what they missed!
Twenty years ago the average TV size was around 24 inches which gave an image area of around 246 square inches. Now the average size is nearly 50 inches giving an image area of 1,066 square inches. An image that is four times as big means that everything is shown in more detail – wildlife, travel and education programmes have become a complete joy to watch.
Twenty years ago, TVs were ungainly pieces of furniture that were at best dust-gathering eyesores but a modern TV is thin, streamlined and a work of art. All that and the cost of a modern TV is less than half what it was twenty years ago.
Love them or hate them, the satellite TV channels have become more widely available and have added a plethora of viewing options that were unheard of even fifteen years ago.
Ask your grandparents what a tablet is and it’s very unlikely they will think of an iPad! Apple launched the iPad into an unsuspecting world in April 2010 and since then over 400 million have been sold. This nets a cool £4 billion for Apple each year.
And that is just one manufacturer. Apple no longer have the tablet market to themselves because Samsung, Amazon, Lenovo and Huawei also have significant market share.
A modern tablet can take voice instructions, and accomplish a million complex tasks with a zillion different apps. For the benefit of any grandad who might be reading, an app is “software that allows you to perform specific tasks” and software is – oh never mind!
No wonder modern youngsters are devoted to tablets when you consider their other advantages:
Can you remember when a state-of-the-art computer looked like the one in the illustration? If you can then you’ll remember how often they used to go wrong. You’ll remember how often you had to turn the thing off and on to reset it. You’ll remember that you had to think twice before opening a website because of the time it took and you’ll remember that storing your pictures in “the cloud” was something reserved for just a few elite members of the technical world who understood such things.
Contrast that with the modern laptop with its enormous processing power and almost instant access to websites all over the world on any subject that you can think of.
If you can’t remember the “old days” of computing then consider yourself very, very lucky.
Yes indeed, old phones were wonderful things but how did you access the apps on the one that is illustrated? I suppose the camera must be embedded in that peculiar looking thing with a lead going to it and you took a snapshot by pressing the button on the top.
But what about storage for all your contacts – I can’t see where that might be. Maybe it didn’t need a contact list and you just spoke to it to tell it who you wanted to phone. The numbers and the dial must have some significance; I bet that’s where the apps must be.
TVs were ugly, iPads didn’t exist, computers seldom worked and phones were just pathetic! Before modern screens, life was less exciting, less varied and less fun. I don’t think screens are so very bad – do you?
The survey question this week was “Roughly how much time a day do you spend at home sitting looking at a screen (television, game console, laptop, phone, tablet)?” These are the results from 1,138 children:
|Time Spent||Percentage of Children|
|More than 4 hours||33|
|Less than an hour||17|