In the United States, the average time a person spends watching TV is 270 minutes per day, compared to 233 minutes per day in Spain and 212 in the UK. This is just the average time and one study found that children can spend up to 8 hours a day looking at a screen. This has dramatically changed since the 1990s due to evolving technology and new devices. In this post, we are going to discuss how we can reduce children’s screen time and increase their reading time. Then we will look at what is so beneficial about reading with children.
Firstly, I am going to say watching TV or films aren’t all bad. If children watch TV shows they can often be quite educational and allow children to learn new words and see new experiences. Also, if they watch a film or TV show in English this can be great for picking up new vocabulary especially when they are too tired to do any other activates. The main thing to remember is to limit this time watching TV and add some variety in by doing other activities during the day.
So, firstly how can you limit screen time?
The most effective way to limit screen time is to have a rough routine that allocates some downtime to rest and watch TV. Set asides 1-2 hours a day where they can watch TV if they want to then other times encourage other activates for the children to do. An important thing to remember is to be a role model. The more time you spend being active or reading instead of watching TV when around the children the more likely they are to follow in your footsteps ‘Lead by example’. With current technology, it is harder to reduce screen time because children often have a phone too but if you set clear boundaries this will make things easier. Don’t allow phones at the dinner table and not before bed, this will all be easier if the children are in a regular routine.
In this blog, we have spoken a lot about different activities babysitters and parents could do with children. One thing we haven’t mentioned too much is reading and the range of benefits it has. Studies have shown that just 15-20 minutes a day can be so beneficial even for adults. The mental stimulation and time to settle down can help reduce stress while increasing knowledge. So it is important to try and schedule time in for readings.
Why is reading so beneficial?
Even though you might think babies don’t understand what you are reading there are still great benefits to show that it is worthwhile. It introduces language and communication skills as well as helping babies to ‘exercise’ their brain. It is also a great opportunity for bonding. If you are a babysitter who is just getting to know the child reading might be a great way to increase the bond between you and the child. This is also the case for parents.
Then with older children, there are endless benefits. It helps develop literacy and communication skills. If you include set reading times each day this can encourage more focus when reading and can help develop a good routine. Reading together increases a child’s social skills and their imagination.
Independent reading is also great for children because it lets them learn more about history and culture. They can read both non-fiction and fiction books to get a better understand of what is real and what is fantasy. They get to expand their vocabulary even if you are too busy to read to them.
If your child doesn´t want to read there are a few tips you could use to try and encourage them. Firstly, you can take them to the bookshop and let them choose the book themselves. Then it is more likely to be something they are interested in so they should enjoy it more. Then if you are reading a story with lots of characters or animals you can get creative with the tone of your voice. Make it more interactive rather than just reading in the one voice because children will love this.
There are so many books out there meaning there is something for everyone. One thing you could also consider it audio books or podcasts. These have become very popular in recent years and are great for practising listening skills. This is a good option for when you are in the car or travelling and you don’t want to read.
I hope this blog has inspired you to pick up a book no matter you age and find just fifteen minutes in your day to read. There are so many books out there that you will find something for everyone. Then you can encourage children to do independent and group reading because there is nothing better than picking up a good book!