Two-year-olds spend an average of 56 minutes a day in front of a screen. This conclusion of the epidemiological bulletin of Public Health France points to too much screen time for toddlers. And the duration increases with the years: 1:10 at the age of 3 and a half and 1:34 at 5 and a half. This large French study, called Elfe (French Longitudinal Study from Childhood), was conducted among 18,000 children before the Covid-19 epidemic.
“For the little ones, the screens are very attractive. Thanks to the colorful contents and movements, they easily capture attention. Television, smartphone, today, society lives with a screen", notes Marie-Noëlle Clément, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, director of the Cerep-Phymentin children's day hospital in Paris and founding member of the association "3 -6-9-12". Education is done largely by imitation, children take example from the behavior of their parents. "To limit children's exposure to screens, the whole issue of family dynamics must be addressed. It is more broadly the habits of the whole family that must be changed. »
Increasingly, screens are impacting family relationships and interfering in parent/child bonds. “There is more and more talk about parenting technoference. Parents often have their mobile phone in hand while caring for their children, playing with them, etc. Some mothers even use their smartphone while breastfeeding, which prevents their baby from meeting their gaze. This moment of meeting does not happen, it is highly deleterious for the development of the toddler, ”regrets Marie-Noëlle Clément.
Some studies have also shown that children whose parents stared at their phones in the park tended to put themselves in more danger and have more temper tantrums. A way to attract attention.
“Obviously the recommendations tend towards as little screen as possible, but some nuances are important. It is preferable to opt for interactive activities and always in the presence of an adult. The main thing is to restore communication, to interact together and not to leave your child passive in front of a screen, ”recommends the psychiatrist.
To keep children away from screens, we must offer them other choices. Indeed, turning on the television is often the simplest response to boredom or parents being busy with other tasks. Instead of this digital babysitter, offer board games, reading time, outdoor outings, manual activities, cooking recipes to do together, etc. The idea is to make time spent in front of screens a little shared pleasure and not a solitary habit.
In order to tend towards good use of screens, it is recommended to avoid them as much as possible in the evening so as not to prevent falling asleep, to turn off the television during meals to encourage this moment of exchange and not to place screens in the children's room.
Last tip, don't let your child watch TV in the morning: "If screens don't help sleep, they don't help prepare the brain for school either." The mistresses also easily manage to identify the little ones who have watched a cartoon before coming. »