An overview of children and screen time
- On average, children spend seven hours every day on devices.
- Children under the age of two should be exposed to extremely limited or no screen usage.
- Children who spend more than an hour a day on gadgets have much higher behavioral and mental health concerns than children who spend less than an hour a day on electronics, according to studies.
Media exposure is all around us, and it’s all clamoring for your children’s attention. We’re only now beginning to understand the consequences of screen time on children and families, and the results aren’t all good.
The amount of time spent on gadgets such as TV, video games, and phones is referred to as screen time. Concerns about screen time have been around for a long time, since studies have shown that too much screen time is harmful to children’s mental health and can lead to family strife.
But how much time in front of the screen is too much? There’s a lot to think about, especially because electronic use might have educational benefits for kids.
How much screen time is too much?
Children use screens for an average of seven hours each day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). However, screen time does not have to be limited to television. Parents must now navigate exposing their children to social media platforms, video games, and a variety of gadgets such as tablets, phones, and laptops in the age of the internet. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has made the following recommendations regarding screen time:
- Children under the age of two should not be allowed to watch television. Children under the age of 24 months should not be allowed to watch television. After the age of six months, video chatting or playing games with your children on apps might be beneficial to the child; nevertheless, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that children under the age of 24 months not be exposed to any screen time at all.
- Ages 2–5: Allow no more than an hour of screen usage per day for youngsters between the ages of 2 and 5.
- Children aged 6 and up: You should limit your children’s screen time to what you consider to be appropriate. Make sure the rules you set don’t have a detrimental impact on their physical activity or sleep.
Experts advise starting the dialogue about media use early and drafting a family media plan that specifies when, where, and how much time your children can spend in front of the screen.
What are the consequences of children spending too much time in front of a screen?
The negative effects of too much screen time
Experts discovered that after one hour of screen time each day, the more time children spent on their devices, the worse their psychological health became, according to a study done by San Diego State University and the University of Georgia.
Adolescents spent the most time in front of the screen, frequently more than seven hours each day. Children who were glued to their electronic devices for long amounts of time had significantly worse mental health than children who just had an hour or less of screen usage per day.
These heavy users were twice as likely to experience anxiety and/or depression, as well as to have poor emotional regulation, dispute more, and be unable to complete activities.
Children who had their screen time limited to an hour or fewer per day, on the other hand, had substantially greater mental health, self-control, and curiosity.
The positive effects of screen time
While screen time can have a lot of bad consequences if it isn’t monitored, it can also have some favorable consequences. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ official publication, using video-chatting with toddlers under the age of two can assist build a social bond with distant relatives.
Infants and toddlers can participate in video chats, according to research, but their parents must promote the connection. Children can learn about a variety of subjects using educational applications, TV shows, websites, and games.
“Sesame Street,” for example, is regarded with helping children improve their social skills, reading, and cognitive capacities.
How can you reduce your child’s screen time?
If you’re worried about your child’s screen time, there are several strategies you can do to cut down on it and encourage healthy technology use.
- Set a good example: “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” as the phrase goes. If you want your children to minimize their screen time, lead by example and reduce your own time spent on technology. During family dinners, put your phone on silent and/or limit your screen time before bed. Both you and your children will reap the benefits of decreased screen time in this manner.
- Create a strategy: The AAP, for example, has materials to help you create and maintain your family’s media plan. Simply enter your children’s names and ages to see which recommendations are most appropriate for you and your family.
- Offer screen time as a reward for good choices: If your child finishes a book or plays outside for an hour, reward them with screen time.
- Set a curfew: Designate a time during the day when particular devices, the internet, or perhaps all screen usage is prohibited. This can help your children stay focused on other things while also improving their sleep.