How much Technology should a child use

How much Technology should a child use

Too much time in front of the screen or surfing the internet, too little sleep, and too little exercise are related to a lower brain capacity in children, and sadly, these three conditions seem to occur more and more in our children, so that we are now talking about recommendations on the use of screens and how much time a child should spend in front of the device.

Recommendations on the use of screens: how much time should a child spend in front of the device?

how much time should a child spend in front of the device

There are many warnings that technology experts and pediatricians have issued in recent years regarding the use of screens in children, something that also increased as a result of the pandemic and the fact that children had to do classes online, but what is the time that a child should spend in front of a mobile device?

In 2018, a study published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, assured that 120 minutes is the maximum allowed to protect the brain capacities of the smallest, and we are not talking only about smartphones, but about any device, including video games and the TV.

And the WHO, after the start of the pandemic, also warned of what they call “sedentary screen time”: time spent passively watching entertainment on a screen (TV, computer, mobile device) without including active screen games that require physical activity or movement, and how it had increased considerably with the confinement.


That is why they remembered their day, and it will not hurt that we review it now to be clear, what number of hours a day a child should spend in front of a screen.

0 hours for children under 12 months
0 hours for children from 1 year
1 hour or less for children under 2 years old.
1 hour or less for children aged 3 to 5.
1 hour or less for children under 4 years old.

The average from 5 years old can be increased to two hours or less, but it is also recommended that older children and especially adolescents do not spend more than 4 hours in front of the computer or mobile phone per day and also ensure that those hours be with intervals, that is, controlling that the children take short breaks or that they are distracted with something else instead of letting them spend four hours in front of the television, the mobile phone or the computer.

So the warning is to limit the use of our devices in front of children as much as possible, not so much (and not only) to safeguard their eyesight but to prevent them from adapting from the beginning to a life that is too sedentary, something that could affect their health if we also take into account other problems that are emerging, such as the increase in cases of children who are overweight due to little exercise and poor nutrition.

How many hours of digital technology for early childhood?
How much Technology should a child use

How many hours of digital technology for early childhood?

If a child eats a sweet, he is enjoying something that he likes and makes him happy. That, of course, doesn’t mean he’s getting the nutrients his body needs to grow strong and healthy. In the same way, if you give your cell phone to your young child, it is almost certain that he will be entertained and happy.

That doesn’t mean he’s getting the stimulation he needs to develop and come to school ready to learn. Why, then, are younger children being exposed to hours of digital technology and screens?

From years to months

In the 1970s, American children began their exposure to technology as young as four years old. His exposure was limited and the offer was, more than anything, television and radio.

Fifty years later, the range of possibilities offered by technology in the form of screens, video games, and mobile applications is almost infinite. Today American children are exposed to screens as young as four months.

In Canada, on the other hand, children between the ages of 3 and 4 spend an average of two hours a day in front of a screen and 24% of 5-year-olds spend more than 2 hours. Even more surprising, perhaps, is that a 2012 study found that in the UK 27% of children aged 0-4 use a computer and 23% use the internet.

What do the experts recommend?

After changing its position almost annually internationally for 10 years, and this being a sample of the numerous studies and systems that were born and disappeared along with applications, screens, and scientific studies, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its position in 2016 and since then recommends:

Children under 18 months: zero contact with screens.
only be in contact with screens if they are accompanied by adults and select quality applications.
2 to 5 years: less than one hour of daily contact with screens.

The Canadian Association of Pediatrics goes a step further in 2017 and among its recommendations, it explains that there must be a plan behind the use of screens in early childhood since, otherwise, it represents a lost opportunity for learning. (see list of free online early childhood education courses)

It even mentions that adults who accompany the use of technology should help children to identify and question certain advertising messages, stereotypes, and problematic practices.

6 reasons why screen use in early childhood should be limited
How much Technology should a child use

6 reasons why screen use in early childhood should be limited

Children learn from human interactions and real sensory experiences, not from screens.
The little ones need to interact to establish an attachment bond with their main caregiver and screen time subtracts from those opportunities.

Children under 18 months of age who are exposed to screens may experience delayed language development.
The evidence shows limited benefits in relation to the use of technology before the age of 2 years, which do not outweigh the risks.

Children under 30 months can hardly transfer a two-dimensional experience onto a three-dimensional plane, which implies a deficit in technology-mediated learning.
There is no strong evidence documenting the benefits of early screen exposure.

Between myths and science

Science has not yet found a direct relationship between the use of technology in early childhood and better cognitive, brain, or psychosocial development. Rather, one study suggests that the longer a two-year-old plays with mobile screens, the more likely they are to suffer from delayed language development.

It is true that there are various myths about technology in the early years. For this reason, this article is the first in a series based on scientific studies by the Regional Center for the Promotion of Books in Latin America and the Caribbean and other organizations, which will deal with the use of digital technologies and the hours of exposure to screens in the childhood.

For now, think about this: the time, however limited, that a child is exposed to a screen must be carefully planned by both educators and caregivers, mothers and fathers.

It is the best way to ensure that this exhibition is of quality. In her hands is that precious organ, the brain of a baby, which in the early years represents a unique window of opportunity that will mark the rest of their lives.

The use of technology in children is not as bad as you think

Instant messaging, music videos, social networks, video games, huge amounts of information (not always good), and many opportunities that are not without some danger.

 New technologies, almost omnipresent today, continue to be a challenge for many parents, unsure about how to reconcile the comprehensive education of their children with the time they spend glued to a screen. 

Is such an abundance of technology really bad for children? More and more experts are calling for its use as a tool for learning and development, emphasizing the need to improve the quality of this exhibition instead of simply setting time limits. 

Ultimately, it is about turning that time into something productive under the careful guidance of parents. “No one would think of letting their child learn to cross the street by being caught by cars, right? We educate him for it”, says María Salmerón, pediatrician of the Adolescent Medicine Unit of the La Paz hospital, in Madrid. “It’s the same with new technologies.”

The American Pediatric Association already changed its recommendations in 2016, which previously focused on limiting the time that little ones spend in front of a screen, to more faithfully reflect the greater degree of interactivity that now occurs with the almost ubiquitous tablets and smartphones. 

It depends, among other things, on the active or passive use that is made and the age of the minor: “Children under three years of age should not use screens due to the impact they have on psychomotor development, language, emotional management, and the formation of the bond of attachment”, says Salmerón. 

From that age, they can be introduced, but always under the supervision of a responsible adult who explains what they are seeing and establishes relationships with the outside world. “Whether it’s with TV or an app, It is important that it has an educational purpose. Make the child a creator, rather than a consumer; awaken in him that innate need they have towards creativity. 

There are games that allow you to design in 3D, build cities, program…” And avoid using the nanny screen under any pretext: “You can see it everywhere. 

But, for example, a screen in front of the child so that he eats better. And that is not good, because the child has to learn to interact with others, with food and with the objects around him”. “You see it everywhere. But, for example, a screen in front of the child so that he eats better. 

And that is not good, because the child has to learn to interact with others, with food and with the objects around him”. “You see it everywhere. But, for example, a screen in front of the child so that he eats better. And that is not good, because the child has to learn to interact with others, with food and with the objects around him”.

For Mario Fernández, a neuroscientist at the Autonomous University of Madrid, “the first thing to do is understand that technology is here to stay. If you don’t give your son a cell phone when the rest of his classmates have one, then you are harming him. 

What you have to do is teach him that this is a tool, not an end”. And Salmerón adds: “It would be a mistake to try to isolate the child from something that is going to reach him, and that can cause greater risks. The technology is something that he is going to need.” The data confirm the promptness of this technological baptism. 

According to the Net Children Go Mobile study, from the University of the Basque Country (2016), Spanish minors have their first mobile at the age of 10, and their first smartphone at 12, when they have already become accustomed to using the Internet. 

Two out of three minors interviewed (about 500) browse the web daily from a room that is not theirs, and 26% do so several times. Nearly half connect from their bedroom at least once a day. 

Among the main activities carried out online are instant messaging services (80% of children between 13 and 16 years of age), listening to music (63%), watching video clips (60%), searching for information (56%), consulting profiles on social networks (46%) and use it for homework (38%). 

They also play online with others, although here the difference between boys and girls is very marked (38% compared to 13). Children between 9 and 12 years of age have a much lower use, although 31% use messaging,

How, then, do incorporate new technologies in a beneficial way for the family? Instead of placing restrictions based on time, parents should help the child decide what they want to do, taking a creative role. “We must demonstrate a positive attitude. 

That means using screens together to connect with others (such as video conferencing with family members far away, or grandma watching her grandson’s soccer game), creating, exploring new ideas, having fun, or watching YouTube videos to improve his sports technique, for example.

 It also means balancing that use with time spent face-to-face with someone, outdoors, at family meals, reading… There’s a time and a place for everything. It doesn’t have to be one or the other,” says Anya Kamenetz, from New York. The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life.

That, of course, implies having well-established family routines, which entails discipline for both children and adults. “There should be a few hours when the use of electronic devices is prohibited: dinner time, time to go out, play sports, share a board game…” says Salmerón. “Think about the role that technology plays in your family today. Do you have to argue to disconnect? Then the house rules should still be reviewed. 

Do you bring work from the office and text over dinner? So maybe you should reorganize your work schedule,” says Kamenetz. “In the United States, people are also beginning to talk about the consequences of parents not interacting with children when, for example, they take them to the park but they are on the phone all the time.

Outdoor play, with other people (and if possible of different ages), continues to be the most beneficial for the child “because it fosters everything the brain needs: friendship, empathy, collaboration, learning to relate… other forms of leisure, from doing a puzzle to playing a video game, are complementary”, says Fernández. 

Both he and many educators see in these a gold mine that can be used for pedagogy, and he cites several studies to reject that the violence of some games is transferred to real life: “There is no cognitive or emotional difference for the brain between kill Martians on a video game console, read The Lord of the Rings where thousands of orcs are killed or the adventures of Captain Alatriste, where they cut your throat in less than a rooster sings.

We give children as gifts and we recommend reading the adventures of Captain Alatriste and they don’t go around killing heretics”. 

On the contrary, games have a positive effect on the child’s cognitive development, improving their response time, peripheral vision, and the development of strategies to achieve goals. “There are online games in which they have to collaborate with other people, assign a role to each one… Although it is online, they also learn to relate, develop empathy, leadership skills, coordination, etc.”

All in all, it is essential not to forget that the time that minors spend in front of the screens must be adjusted to the family’s daily routines and to the convenience that when a certain time arrives, such as dinner, we can disconnect from all those devices, “change the rhythm, relax, lower the light intensity…

There comes a time when you realize that you don’t need TV, you go to bed earlier, rest, get up better and make the most of the day,” says Salmerón. 

Using screens shortly before bed interferes with the sleep cycle as it delays the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that, among other things, helps us sleep, says Fernández. “It is the hormone of light, which the brain secretes when the sun goes down.

 In normal mode, screens emit light at all wavelengths, and blue light, which is the brightest, causes our brain to think that it is still daytime, delaying bedtime”.

The night filter offered by some models such as the iPhone blocks it, “but if what we want is for the child to fall asleep, it is not advisable for him to play, since doing so will stimulate him and make it more difficult for him to fall asleep.”

The experts consulted agree that the use of new technologies also carries its risks, although according to the Go Mobile study it is not exactly the children who spend the most time online who have the most chances of having problems, since that also makes them develop greater resilience. 

“Social networks are much more dangerous than video games,” says Mario Fernández. “The possibility that you don’t get the recognition you want from friends, or a certain number of likes…and then there are people who do not have good intentions. From a certain age, you have to be connected to their social networks”. 

For Salmerón, the risks begin when the child begins to make autonomous use of the Internet, especially if the parents are not aware of the content to which they may be exposed. “The most frequent risk is access to false information (although it also happens to adults) or inappropriate content that they can find in the advertising of the pages they visit.” The impact will depend on the age of the child or her degree of maturity, among other factors. And although there are parental control filters, “the problem is that from the age of 10 or 12 they learn to deactivate these programs.

 In the end, what matters most is the previous education that has been done at home with the child (teaching him not to share personal data, not to take photos where information about where they live is seen…)”. Another danger is that of the addictive behavior that the internet can generate. “According to the latest European study (from 2011), this is one percent, which if you think about it is not a small thing.

 On the other hand, the child who uses these devices a lot within a normal activity is not the same as the one who is socially isolated, who uses the new technologies more than three or four hours a day, and who can suffer a true syndrome due to its lack. of abstinence”. “According to the latest European study (from 2011), this is one percent, which if you think about it is not a small thing.

 On the other hand, the child who uses these devices a lot within a normal activity is not the same as the one who is socially isolated, who uses the new technologies more than three or four hours a day, and who can suffer a true syndrome due to its lack. of abstinence”. “According to the latest European study (from 2011), this is one percent, which if you think about it is not a small thing. 

On the other hand, the child who uses these devices a lot within a normal activity is not the same as the one who is socially isolated, who uses the new technologies more than three or four hours a day, and who can suffer a true syndrome due to its lack. of abstinence”.

How long should children use their cell phones?
How much Technology should a child use

How long should children use their cell phones?

Digital screens are content with a bombardment of images and sounds that are not very stimulating for a small

Children have technology within reach: cell phones, tablets, television, laps, and endless gadgets and electronic devices, even some of these can become their favorite distractions. But this is not healthy, how long should children use these technological devices?

Pediatrician Dimitri Christakis, a researcher at the University of Washington in an interview for Medical Daily commented that “the brain of a newborn is different from that of older brains. Babies do not process the content of a screen or television, it is just a bombardment of sights and sounds that are unstimulating.

According to a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published on the page, children need more interaction with humans than with screens; In addition, those who use cell phones or screens a lot are at risk of delayed language development. This study also states that they learn better from live presentations than from televised ones.

That is why the pediatrician Christakis, in a publication of the XATKA magazine, recommends that the maximum time that a child under two years of age can be exposed to a touch screen, be it a cell phone, computer, or tablet, is no more than 30 minutes a day… since that is the time a child plays with a toy.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children between the ages of 3 and 5 use cell phones and interactive screens for a maximum of one hour a day, while those between the ages of 6 and 18 do so for a maximum of two hours. Finally, the AAP advises parents to:

Keep connected electronic devices out of the child’s room.
Establish rules for the use of touch devices (cell phones, tablets, computers, video games).
Monitor what media the little ones use and access.

How children should use new technologies

They are digital natives and know how to use them better than adults, but this does not mean total freedom to have their mobile or tablet

We are tired of hearing it: today’s children are not like before. In the last decades and, therefore, in the last generations, many things have changed. Be careful, some for the better and others for the worse – but tell it to the children’s series, practically absent in the current television grids of the generalist networks.

In the first group, we should add, without hesitation, the large number of technological gadgets that the smallest members of the house have at their fingertips. Mobile phones, computers, game consoles, or tablets are just the tip of an iceberg that powerfully attracts your attention.

And it is that when today’s parents need to distract their children -before they took out the car keys- they amicably part with the technological instrument they have at hand, without differences.

And they accept them so richly since the current generation is already they are digital natives and learn to talk or walk at the same time as using a PC.

With this expression that is so fashionable today, experts refer to the great ability that children have to intuitively use the device on duty. It is letting a mobile or a tablet fall into their hands, and after two minutes it will seem that it has been made with the little one in mind.

However, this rapid adaptation is very worrying for some parents. What at first seemed like just another entertainment, over the years can become a walking danger.

Although they know that some of these artifacts are more than beneficial for their learning, since studies have made it clear that interactivity causes a much faster and more efficient response, they are not sure of the limit of the damage in this current digital age.

And in the midst of this climate of fear, they turn to technology to try to find answers to find the middle ground between leaving children free and their safety. What do the experts recommend? The list of advice is long, although everyone agrees that the use of new technologies is more positive than anything else, although certain precautions must be taken beforehand.

Set an example. Parents should be the first to teach them that technology is okay and beneficial, up to a point. If the little ones see their elders abusing the mobile or the computer, they will not understand the limitations of use. In the street or at the table at lunchtime, they should be practically prohibited.

Parental supervision. The first thing is to teach them, then do it with them, and, finally, give them the freedom that must be supervised to avoid bad habits and practices. They are digital natives, but too young to take on some of the responsibilities they demand. This care must be increased when the Internet gets involved.

If children up to a certain age do not walk alone on the street, why leave them alone on the Internet? Not forgetting social networks and what they can share on them. A certain level of control will prevent bad tricks such as example, posting the result of a game on Twitter or Facebook for leaving your mobile to play.

Rational and regularized use. Experts seem to agree that children under the age of six should have limited access, at most one hour a day. The most appropriate seems to be half an hour since spending hours and hours in front of a screen is not the most appropriate.

However, this time is progressively increased depending on age and responsibilities, although you must also have some control and not give them carte blanche too soon.

Adapted to his age. It happens as in everything, first, it was television and the hundred with its rhombuses, then video games, and now new technologies.

Leaving him the tablet with which we work is another sign of trust, but giving him one adapted to his age will ensure that he does not come across foreign elements that he can delete by mistake.

With readings, games, and other appropriate aspects, they are the new vein and niche that the big manufacturers are taking advantage of – at El Corte Inglés we can find a wide variety of children’s tablets perfect for the little ones in the house.

Games are not only based on technology. They are digital natives, but that does not mean that they cannot enjoy other small pleasures.

Traditional toys, such as puzzles or cut-outs, and socializing with other children are essential for their growth and the learning process.

If we introduce the street factor to this combination, it will be the perfect equation, since it will improve physical abilities as well as coordination. But beware, nothing to take the tablet to the park. Each thing at its time.


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