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14.02.20

How does screen time affect your child's development?

Pediatrics
Children are ‘digital natives’ who have grown up in a digital, media-saturated world of tablets, smartphones, laptops and other electronic devices. This digital universe may offer wonderful opportunities, including access to a vast field of knowledge, but it can also threaten your child’s health and development. You do not need to ban screens from your child's environment, but it is important to establish good habits so that screen time respects the different stages of their development. 

What do young children need to be able to thrive? 

Security and attention. To grow and thrive properly, children need to establish quality relationships with the main adult(s) in their life. Communication based on respect and trust as well as your full attention are instrumental in your child’s development. 

Freedom and movement. Physical activity and discovering the world through all of the five senses plays a key role in your child’s healthy development. Their brain will be used much more by the multisensory perception that happens during contact with the world and interaction with an adult than by a two-dimensional image on a screen.  

Learning. From an early age, a child’s brain is like a sponge. They have a thirst for knowledge and want to discover the world around them. Using screens to get your child to carry out a task, such as dressing or eating, or so that you can get some peace and quiet, stops your child from learning in direct contact with their environment.  

How can you have a sensible amount of screen time as an adult?

The first step is to consciously choose specific times dedicated to screen time. In the evening, make sure that laptops and smartphones do not interfere with your relationship with your child. Put your phone to one side and turn down the volume, so that your time together is not interrupted. 

Suggest activities that stimulate your child’s learning, such as getting dressed together, preparing dinner, reading a book, playing a game or going for a walk. These different activities allow your child to become more independent and develop their motor, spatial and socialisation skills.

If you are planning a meal out at a restaurant, choose somewhere that is family friendly, or at least has a play area, so that your child can run around and be creative, for example, with age-appropriate books and colouring sheets that you have brought with you. Try to also make sure that the meal does not last for too long.

Hôpital de La Tour services

A moderate amount of monitored screen time does not interfere with your child’s development. However, remember that your child needs your full attention to grow, thrive and become independent. The paediatrice service at Hôpital de La Tour is always available to answer any questions or concerns you may have about this subject.

 

Dr med. Roberta De Luca, Paediatrician, Neonatologist, Member of the Swiss Medical Association (FMH), Consultant, NICU