Categorized | Baby Care, Featured, Toddler care

Should my child eat in front of the screen?

Posted on 22 December 2015 by Kristrun

Screen timeThe very recent widespread access to mobile screens has changed our behaviour and – without a doubt – our children’s behaviour. Until very recently we would only have televisions in our homes – and very few would have access to mobile TV screens. Nowadays we see many babies and children with a screen in restaurants, sitting in prams or in the lap of a parent – absorbed, quiet and calm.

Because of this recent change the effects of children using a screen from early days has not been researched much – there are no adults yet who have had this experience – so long term research does not exist. The interest to fund such research is probably not great as a lot of powerful companies around the world are much more focused on making our children future consumers in front of the screen.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that kids under 2 years of age watch nothing at all and children older than 2 – not more than two hours daily. Of course not all screen time is the same – catching up with grandparents on Skype is not the same as spending time alone with the iPad.

What about eating whilst in front of the screen? Many parents use this as a regular means of keeping their little ones in their seats at meal times. Here are a few things to consider.

-It can affect the amount of food the child consumes – and they may overeat without realising it.

-It´s important for children to copy adult behaviour during mealtimes. That is how they really learn how to behave – the distraction of the screen will very likely delay this learning procedure.

-For the same reason, they may lose interest in certain types of food as they miss out on seeing an adult show interest, talk about and consume the foods.

-It can be extremely difficult to wean the child from using the screen at mealtimes.

-It can affect their language development to miss out on the communication during mealtimes. Mealtimes are meant to be a social time.

-The need for the screen may create a false need for food.

-The child can be very upset when the screen is taken away from her, causing other problems after mealtimes.

It can take time to teach children to behave as we would like them to around mealtimes. Don’t expect them to last long at the table in the beginning – they will gradually and slowly learn this skill and grow to enjoy it. Some enjoy it from young age whilst for others it can take a lot longer. Eventually all normal healthy children will get there.

Happy eating

Kristrun

B.Ed, M. Ed. (Iceland, HK) C.E.C.E. (HK)

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