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Screen Time

Screens are a part of modern life. Healthy screen habits that begin in childhood will help your child get a good balance of different activities.

Children aged 4-5 should have no more than around an hour watching a screen each day. This should ideally be with a grown up. This way they can learn the most from what they watch by talking with you about it.

It can feel like children are only interested in TV and tablets. They may make a fuss when you try and change their habits. Try not to feel stressed by this. Take some deep breaths and stick to your plan for healthy screen time use. Children love attention and time with the grown ups, so will quickly get used to these changes.

  • Give an early warning that you will turn off the screen in ten minutes, then 5 minutes – and then do it. 
  • Get out and about; try time in the garden or at the park.
  • Play with toys together. Let your child take the lead. Encourage their imagination with pretend play. Try ‘making’ activities together – you could do building bricks or ‘sticking and gluing’.
    • Spend time talking to or playing with your child away from screens.
    • Limit screen time to one hour a day for 4-5 year olds. Babies and very young children do not need screen time.
    • Plan fun activities away from screens. *Click Here* for some ideas!
    • Talk to your children about what they are doing on tablets or computers.
    • Make sure you are confident about keeping your child safe online. *Click Here* for more information
    • Spend time online together to help your child get the most out of educational content.
    • Turn off all screens at least an hour before bedtime
    • Be a good role model and reduce your own time in front of a screen including phones, tablets, laptops, PCs and television.
    • Encourage your child to participate in other activities e.g. playing outside, sharing books, conversations, craft activities and sports.
    • Limit screen time in the day to short periods of 30 minutes or less.
  • When is the right time for a child to have a mobile phone?

    There is no law in place to suggest what age a child is allowed to have a mobile phone. It is your choice as a parent. Be aware that the risks increase when children are able to access the internet on their smartphone. Some very young children have a mobile phone, but most parents wait until their child is about to start secondary school.

    You might want to consider;

    • Does my child need a phone or do they just want one?
    • Setting up password access to the app store so that you have to approve any apps they download or content that they pay for.
    • Purchasing a basic feature phone. These tend to be cheaper and are less likely to be targeted by thieves.
    • Downloading a location tracking app if your child has a smartphone. This can help if you want to check where your child is.
    • Setting ground rules with your child about using their phone and checking in with them regularly.

Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.

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