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Denmark announces plan to ban screen use at preschools

Denmark announces plan to ban screen use at preschools
Education Minister has proposed a ban on the use of screens at daycare institutions in Denmark. Photo: Tobias Kobborg/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark's education minister Mattias Tesfaye has announced plans to ban the use of tablets, phones and other screens at day care centres looking after children up until the age of six.

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The proposal comes after a report last year from Danish Centre for Social Science research found that the the share of 3-year-olds who spent more than an hour a day on a computer, TV, YouTube or iPad had risen from 29 percent in 2009 to 52 percent in 2021.

"Children's screen use has been rising rapidly in recent years and more and more research is suggesting that it is not healthy," he said. "I see no reason for the use of screens to rise while they are in vuggestue (0-3 years old) or børnehave (3-6 years old)."

Tesfaye said that his ministry would now work on a proposal to put to parliament, which would ensure that the youngest children in Denmark would not be exposed to screens while in publicly provided care. 

Tesfaye said he was well aware that most of the screen use by children takes place in the home, but he said he did not think that the country's day cares should exacerbate the problem. 

The proposed law would not cover day care staff's communication with parents, or work that does not involve the children, Tesfaye said, and staff would probably be allowed to play music to children using a computer or iPad. 

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"I love it when my daughter comes home and has been listening to music and I know it's from pressing a screen. The crucial thing is that she doesn't sit and stare at the screen," he said. 

Elisa Rimpler from the Bupl daycare teacher's union, said she did not support an outright ban.

"Children should not sit in front of an iPad in daycare. They should play and make friends and move physically," she said. "But there can be situations - for example in a forest nursery - where they meet an animal and want to find out more about it. Today, it is natural to use an app and not look up a book."

When the proposal has been drawn up it will be put out to consultation and the three government parties will enter into talks with the opposition to draw up a detailed proposal. 

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