The impact of media on little brains

The debate about how much screen time is too much continues with research presented at the Australian Council for Children Web_6and the Media conference in Sydney in October last year.  Lecturer at the Institute of Early Childhood at Macquarie University, Kate Highfield, suggests too much time in front of the screen playing the wrong kind of computer games can be responsible for developmental delay in children.  The Raising Children Network website recommends that children under two years have no screen time at all (including TV) and children under five years less than one hour a day. Too much screen time can affect language development, attention spans, creativity and social skills. It is suggested that even adults can be damaged by too much screen entertainment and should have no more than two hours per day.  Kate Highfield’s research found many of the apps purchased for children were just “drill and practice” games which lead to lower-level neural development and often include excessive rewarding that can create unrealistic expectations in children.  The good news is that apps that require input from the child such as ARTmaker and My Story can have a positive impact on development.  She gives some common sense advice to parents:

  • Have consistent rules and don’t buy computer games or gaming consoles if you don’t want a child to play with them
  • Some computer time per day is not damaging but can be problematic when these games displace other activities like sleeping, playing and making real friends
  • Offer meaningful alternatives to screen based entertainment
  • Pick apps based on the potential to create from scratch instead of rewarding practice
  • Help your child to self-regulate screen time.  Be clear about the range of activities available to your child each day
  • Treat screen time like junk food in a sensible diet:  it’s about getting the balance right.

Battersby L ‘Little brains suffer with too much screen play -life-news/little-brains-suffer-with-too-much


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