Preschool directors believe too much screen time is hampering children’s transition from preschool to school, researchers have found.
Conducted by University of South Australia (UniSA) researchers Dr Kobie Boshoff, Alessia Pivato and Sarah Seekamp, the study explores the concerns of 41 South Australian preschool directors, finding that an overuse of screen time, in lieu of quality play, is substantially impacting children’s development, putting them behind their peers as they start school.
Paediatric expert and Director of UniSA’s International Centre for Allied Health Evidence, Dr Kobie Boshoff, says reducing children’s screen time and replacing it with more developmentally appropriate playtime will help improve poor rates of school readiness.
“School readiness is all about the ability of a child to make a successful transition from preschool into formal school. But as research shows, nearly one in four South Australian children are not meeting the mark,” Boshoff said.
“In our research, preschool directors indicate that families are overusing screens as ‘babysitters’ and that this could be contributing to lower levels of social skill development, concentration, problem solving abilities and self-regulation – all key skills that improve school readiness.
“This is acutely important for all families and children, but especially so for families living in rural and low socioeconomic areas, where the risk of developmental delay is known to be statistically higher.”
Boshoff said preschool teachers could suggest ideas to parents for alternative, developmentally appropriate activities for children and families.
However, teachers did not need to avoid screen time in preschool because there’s too much use at home. Rather preschools need to use screentime in a supervised and time limited manner.