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It’s a debate that divides opinion.
How much is too much? From looking at our mobile devices and computer monitors in the workplace to watching television or using an iPad at home, it’s now almost impossible to avoid screen time.
It is the way we live our 21st century lives – as we are surrounded by artificial screens and digital displays of all shapes and sizes – all of which are emitting potentially dangerous levels of light energy.
The question on many people’s minds now is, are we doing enough to enforce limitations on our children’s screen time?
As school is about to resume for thousands of children around the country, now is a good time to set boundaries and to shine a [natural] light on the situation at home and in the classroom.
Restricting a child’s screen time at home and school can be challenging for parents and educators alike.
I have seen children have meltdowns and screaming fits because they are told they cannot use an iPad or computer in the classroom. Forget 1927’s pop song “I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream“ – as “I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for iScreens“ is more appropriately in sync with today’s youth.
However, setting boundaries and rules pertaining to screen time for children at home will help them develop other important life skills – as will completing chores, outdoor activities and advanced social interactions. At school, educators are encouraged to promote student engagement in differentiated ways – balancing a student’s learning across a technological and non-technological tightrope of subjects.
Balance is key.
So, what is an acceptable amount of screen time for children?
Experienced primary school teacher and parent blogger, Fiona Froelich suggests that children between the age of five and ten should not be exposed to screens for more than an hour a day while children between the age of ten and twelve should not be exposed to any form of digital technology for more than two hours a day.
For parents with infants, it is recommended by the World Health Organsiation that they avoid using technology altogether, as this is an important time for their social and emotional development.
The World Health Organisation is also considering endorsing new guidelines, developed by Australian and Canadian researchers, as its official endorsements to parents.
As we become increasingly dependent on technology, more time is spent looking at screens. Thanks to contemporary research, we know that long-term exposure to artificial light can not only negatively impact sight, but also disrupt the human body clock and overall wellbeing of an individual. This can therefore lead to health problems for young people later in life.
Like a good diet, balance is the key to a healthy life. Over consumption could have potentially damaging effects to one’s health. There’s no escaping it. There will always be artificial light at the end of the tunnel, but let’s encourage our children to enjoy the natural kind rather than the non-natural sort.

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