How much time should I allow them on the screens or with their device?
This indeed a common question with no straightforward answer. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) keeps changing recommendations and found it difficult to come up with guidelines. In addition, available guidelines tend to be outdated and not very relevant. So, the more important questions are:
“How is my child coping with the time on the screens?”
“How are they spending that time on the screens?”
As long as their children maintain all the other aspects of their lives such as keeping with homework, chores, friends, mealtimes, and sleep times then parents do not have a major thing to worry. If the kids are not having tantrums to get them to the dinner table or get them to put the device away before bed, they are probably doing fine. Otherwise parents should make some changes.
Aside from checking if their kids cope up with other things, it is also important for the parents to look at what their kids are using the screens for. Creative uses can certainly have more value than just consuming content. Some video games have benefits that can outweigh that of others. Moreover, the experiences and the interactions their kids are having might have largely positive or overwhelmingly negative impact. Parents should therefore focus at the quality of the screentime of their children and not on the amount of time.
Yes, parents ultimately want that the time spent is worthwhile for their kids and there are indeed different ways to achieve it. It may be chatting with their kid’s mates, playing games or toys, being online, etc. They can’t and should not force their children what to choose instead they need to ensure that it is a positive and constructive experience. There must be balance between their kid’s activities which are mainly learning, playing, socializing, and interacting.