What parents can do about youngsters' screen time

As a parent with three young children, I can understand the anxieties expressed by Madam Lee Hui Ling (E-learning makes control of child's Internet access difficult; Aug 3).

However, I also recognise that technology is an important part of today's digital age. It will be increasingly more so as the world becomes more connected and Singapore progresses as a Smart Nation.

As a researcher, I have come across many studies that show that when used well, technology enables new ways of effective and engaged learning.

Technology also provides opportunities for students to hone soft skills such as communication and collaboration.

Our schools and teachers do well in using technology to improve the teaching and learning of our children, and they should continue to do so.

Technology need not be feared or avoided. An isolationist mentality will not be productive.

Nevertheless, we can be sensible in moderating our children's use of devices, as part of nurturing their self-discipline and sense of responsibility. Family rules can be laid down and parental controls on devices can be set up.

The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends that screen time should be limited to an hour a day for children aged between two and five years, and that consistent time limits be placed for children from age six.

It also placed emphasis on the nature of the screen time, that is the quality of the digital content as well as the interactions that we have with our children as we guide and view the content with them.

Instead of watching the clock when our children are on the device, watch them and, if possible, watch with them.

We will find that our children may not be up to no good when they are on their devices.

In fact, their use of technology may do them good in developing their digital and media literacy, and may even provide opportunities for them to do good by helping others.

Victor Lim Fei (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2018, with the headline 'What parents can do about youngsters' screen time'. Print Edition | Subscribe