Technology at Childcare: How Much is Too Much Screen Time?

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In today’s world, technology is an important part of learning, and it can offer many benefits for early childhood education. But too much screen time can be detrimental to children’s learning, taking time away from social, emotional, and academic skills.

To ensure that your child’s cognitive development is supported, it’s important to set clear expectations for the use of technology in their education and to choose an early learning center that takes a similar approach to screen time and media.

So how much is too much screen time at childcare?

Screen time at childcare

While most early learning centers tend to steer clear of excessive screen time, many centers rely on technology to deliver some curriculum programs.

In a childcare setting, screen time can be used to introduce a range of new concepts and ideas. Children may listen to music and storybooks, play educational screen-based games, or participate in technology-focused learning programs.

A good childcare provider should limit screen time, instead of delivering educational programs that incorporate play-based and curriculum-guided offscreen learning.

The benefits of screen time

In early childhood, effective use of technology can provide many educational benefits. Using technology, educators can introduce children to a range of new concepts, ideas, and curriculum programs, as well as helping children develop important digital literacy skills that will assist them in school and beyond.

Childcare centers are able to use screen time to deliver interactive and dynamic learning activities. For some children, especially those with learning difficulties, screen-based programs can support the development of new academic skills and provide accessible teaching approaches.

The problems with screen time

Unfortunately, too much screen time can have a negative impact on children’s development, leading to problems with sleep, health, and social skills. Children who rely too heavily on technology are less likely to engage in offscreen learning activities and may be at a higher risk for obesity and short-sightedness.

It’s important that childcare centers limit screen time during the early years, ideally including educational screen-based programs for just one hour each day as a supplement to offscreen learning.

Managing screen time

To manage your child’s screen time, set clear expectations about the amount of screen time you’d like to allow. Model preferred behavior by also aiming to reduce your own screen time where possible and choose a childcare center that shares your approach to screen time limitations.

When your child is using technology, try to ensure that this time is spent using educational programs. This way, your child can get the most out of screen time without becoming reliant on technology for all components of their learning.

Choosing a screen-smart childcare center

As you choose an early learning center, ask questions about screen time policies and educational technology. Share your screen time expectations and find out how these align with the routines of your chosen center.

If you’re looking for a screen-smart childcare center near you, MyXplor can help. MyXplor provides location-specific childcare listings to help parents find great early learning centers. For example, a parent in Mernda, Victoria, might visit the MyXplor Mernda childcare listing to find local childcare services.