Experts say parents in South Africa exceed the global and national guidelines for screen time for children. Pexels
Experts say parents in South Africa exceed the global and national guidelines for screen time for children. Pexels

SA children are given too much screen time

By IOL Reporter Time of article published May 4, 2021

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Parents in South Africa exceed the global and national guidelines for screen time, and the majority of them don’t think screen time could impact negatively on their little ones.

This is according to a study published in the International Journal of Public Research.

This guideline for preschool children for screen time is less than one hour a day, and they require 10-13 hours of sleep a day.

Children who come from urban high-income homes have much higher rates of exceeding screen time guidelines, by 67%. Those from urban low-income and rural low-income settings, exceeded by 26% and 3.5%, respectively.

“Meeting screen time and sleep guidelines differs across income settings, but it is evident that parents of preschoolers across all income settings would benefit from greater awareness about guidelines,” the study indicated.

Occupational Therapist, Tracey Stockdale, said a lot of parents simply lack the knowledge of how screen time can negatively affect their child’s development and milestones.

“I also find that some parents do not know how to play with their children and so it’s much easier to allow the child to engage in screen time,” said Stockdale.

While another occupational therapist touched on the issue of cellphone apps.

Occupational Therapist and co-founder of Play Sense said: “We are told by an advert on Facebook all the time that a particular app will help my child read by age four. Not only is that developmentally inappropriate, but it can look ‘educational’ to parents. Too much screen time also robs little ones of sensory exploration. There is no app for sand and water play.”

Experts do not recommend screen time for infants under one year, while children from two to five years of age should not experience more than one hour of screen time a day.

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