How much TV & Computer is appropriate for children?

Children and teenagers spend more time today than ever watching TV or the computer. At the same time, they seem to forget the world around them for hours at a time. Up to which point the media behavior of their children is completely in order and from when intensive use becomes problematic, parents can often only with difficulty estimate. Below I give some tips for a meaningful use of TV, computer, tablet & Co.

The handling of media has long been part of everyday life for most children and adolescents today. Even the youngest come naturally in contact with entertainment technologies? and sometimes wiping around on mobile phones and tablets before they start to talk or learn to walk. Such extreme developments are more of a concern to experts. Finally, studies indicate that excessive television consumption in childhood can leave lasting psychological marks and later lead to behavioral problems. Experts also expect a similar effect for digital devices.

Nonetheless, it is important that children of a certain age come into contact with TVs, computers and other media. Only then can they learn a healthy usage behavior.

Regulated times for all ages

But when is a first pre-accession advisable and which screen times are appropriate? In general, many paediatricians and professional organizations recommend that children under the age of two or three should not be allowed to watch television or give tablets or other mobile devices. Because this phase of childhood is critical for brain development and the development of behavior. In addition, at this age, learning through direct interaction with parents and others plays a particularly important role.

After that, it is important to introduce the children slowly and with clear rules to media usage. The initiative "Look what your child does with media", sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, has formulated the following times as guidelines: Children up to five years should not sit in front of the TV or computer for more than half an hour a day. Between the ages of six and nine, parents can allow up to one hour a day. For children over the age of ten, on the other hand, there is a weekly quota of around nine hours per week, which? similar to the pocket money? can be divided increasingly independently.

Which contents are suitable?

However, it's not just about the question of how long. Equally important is what the sprouts are allowed to look at. Certain content such as violence, eroticism, scary or even advertising are unsuitable for children. They can not process what has been shown and first have to learn, for example, to arrange images, to follow actions and to distinguish between the real world and the world of television. Not all content is harmless for older adolescents.

Therefore, make sure to select only age-appropriate broadcasts, films or computer games. A first orientation here are the age ratings of the voluntary self-control of the film industry (FSK) and the voluntary self-control television (FSF). For computer and console games, there are also such recommendations? such as the seal of entertainment software self-control (USK).

If your child is already working independently on the Internet, special child protection software can ensure that inappropriate material is blocked. This works, for example, at the German online video store Maxdome. Once installed, it recognizes the specified age ratings and only allows access to the movies and programs released for the selected age. Unfortunately, the youth protection programs do not work for all websites. In addition, parents should therefore install a good firewall that allows blocking certain websites or allowing only certain ones. Even if the facility needs some time here, you can determine quite exactly which pages may be visited.

Media literacy needs to be learned

However, 100% control and protection are hardly achievable with these measures. It is all the more important that your child learns a responsible, reflective approach to the media at an early age and knows how to protect himself from its dangers.

For this to work, parents should actively accompany and moderate the media consumption of their children right from the start. For example, watch programs together to watch your child respond to the content. Are you talking about what you are watching after a movie? or let your pupil explain why he likes a certain computer game.

Are you integrating your child more and more in the choices of choosing games and shows as they get older? and if you want to ban content, explain why, rather than expressing a seemingly pointless ban. In this way, your child deals more consciously with the media and their own user behavior in everyday life. In short, it develops media literacy.

When should media have a break?

In addition, a healthy approach means that working with television, computers and the like is not without alternative. Rather, children should learn to appreciate and appreciate different ways of recreational activities. Therefore, regularly encourage your child to stay outside and play, play sports or meet friends.

It is also meaningful that media are always taboo at certain times? about eating, doing homework and bedtime. This is how media breaks become routine and children have the opportunity to focus on other things and to settle down. The abstinence from the screen even promotes a good night's sleep.

Researchers have found that it is the bluish light of computers, tablets or smartphones that blocks the release of the sleep hormone melatonin. For this reason alone, the devices should stay switched off at the latest one or two hours before going to bed. Tip: Lead by example and stick to the agreements!

When things get too much

If your child can not comply with such rules and surfs or plays, for example, until late into the night, you should be alert. In particular, if you also feel that school performance has deteriorated significantly, your child is withdrawing from other hobbies, friends and family, and it is often irritable or moody, it may indicate that media consumption is becoming too much , Also, health problems such as sleep disorders, heavy weight loss or unusual weight gain may indicate an excess.

Which behaviors are signs of danger, also summarize corresponding checklists on the Internet. Among other things, these provide some youth welfare offices or the EU initiative free of charge. If you have a concrete suspicion, should you react quickly? and, if necessary, seek professional help from local counseling centers.

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