It has been said that the “two minute warning” is a good way to help a young child transition from playtime to another (less fun) activity. A study found that the “two minute warning” might actually make tantrums worse for some children – especially if the child was engaged in screen time.
Researchers at the University of Washington’s Computing for Health Living & Learning Lab interviewed 27 families about how they manage media and screen time experiences for their toddlers and preschoolers. The answers to those questions informed a diary study that included 28 different families.
Each family documented screen time experiences over the course of two weeks. They wrote down what their child was watching. They noted the kind of device their child was using (tablet, smartphone, etc.). The parents also wrote down what prompted screen time to end – and how their child reacted when screen time ended.
The researchers were trying to discover the effect that a “two minute warning” had on a young child’s behavior in regards to the end of screen time. The researchers did not tell the families that they were focusing on the “two minute warning” (so as not to alter the results).
What the study revealed was unexpected. Many parents have been told that the “two minute” warning helps a child transition from one activity to the next. The purpose of the warning is to prevent tantrums. The study found the “two minute warning” can actually make tantrums worse.
Of the parents that used the “two minute warning” for screen time – 59% reported that their child had a neutral reaction to the end of screen time. A total of 19% of the situations that involved the “two minute warning” to end screen time resulted in a positive reaction from the child. A total of 22% of the situations that involved a “two minute warning” for screen time evoked a negative reaction from the child.
What made the “two minute warning” easier for kids to tolerate:
* The battery on the device died
* Wi-Fi was unavailable.
* The end of screen time coincided with a natural endpoint. (Examples: the video they were watching ended, or the game they were playing stopped).
* The child was allowed to pick another fun activity to do after screen time was over.
* The end of screen time fit with household routines. (Example: It is time for dinner, and your family does not allow screen time at the dinner table).
One thing that made the “two minute warning” that ends screen time harder for children to accept was autoplay. The child wants to watch the video that automatically started – and their parents are trying to take away the device.
Image by r. nial bradshaw on Flickr.
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