‘More Green Time, Less Screen Time’ is the theme of this year’s National Kindy Day, the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) has announced.

The theme was chosen to bring attention to the harm of children spending too much time on their tablets and smartphones and what parents can do to help limit screen time, the MOET said in a statement.

“The theme promotes the benefits of limited screen time.

“Amongst other things, screen time can be an effective way to absorb information, and teach language and numeracy.

“However, prolonged screen time is now known to have adverse effects.

“Blue light from screens can restrain the production of the hormone Melatonin, which in turn makes it more difficult to fall sleep, and also leads to lower quality sleep. Unchecked, too much screen time can also result in behavior and health problems.”

Over the past few years, Vanuatu has seen an increase in kindergarten attendance.

According to the statement, the MOET has recommended that children of age 1 to 5 should have no more than one hour of screen time per day, and children older than 6 have no more than 2 hours of screen time per day.

“The MOET also suggests that parents watch programs with their children, and ask their children questions about what they see, thereby using screen time as an opportunity for education.

“MOET recommends parents spend more time with the children outdoors rather than indoors.

“Children who do not attend an Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Center are in turn less likely to attend school, and if they do, are more likely to start later and also less likely to finish.

“That is why the MOET has been working hard to ensure that all children across Vanuatu have access to quality ECCE Centers.”

National Kindy Day is celebrated annually on June 12. The day emphasizes the importance of ECCE.