THE EFFECTS OF TOO MUCH SCREEN TIME
MINIMIZE SCREEN TIME TO HELP REDUCE ADVERSE EFFECTS ON CHILDREN'S HEALTH.
What counts as screen time? Sedentary activity in front of a screen, such as watching television, working on a computer, playing video games, using a smartphone or tablet.
Too much screen time is becoming an epidemic. Nearly one-third of 12 to 15 year olds watch TV and use the computer for at least 2 hours a day (2). 6.9% spend more than 5 hours with screens daily (3).
Multiple types of screen time can add up to 5-7 hours daily (4). That's up to 2.5 hours over the last decade, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (5).
Screen time has been linked with childhood obesity.
For kindergartners, more than one hour of TV each day means they're(8) 52% more likely to be overweight than kids who watch less, and 72% more likely to be obese than kids who watch less.
Commercials can promote unhealthy eating choices (6).
Kids eat 167 additional calories per hour of television watched (7).
Lack of sleep. 4 hours of daily screen time equals 20 minutes longer to fall asleep (9). Teenagers send 34 text messages on average after getting into bed (10). Blue light from screens has a similar effect to caffeine (11).
Problems in school. 4 hours of daily screen time is linked to a full-grade-level drop in average GPA (12).
Physical consequences. Pain in fingers, wrists, neck and back. Narrowed eye vessels.
How can you help fix the problem? Follow the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for screen time. Age 2 and under: none. Toddlers learn best by interacting with people, not screens. Young children and teens: 1-2 hours per day of high-quality content (13).
Keep TVs and computers outside of bedroom. Restrict computer time during homework and tv time during meals. Use limited screen time as a reward for being active or reading a book. Set a smartphone curfew. Decrease your own screen time to set an example.
1 National Institutes of Health; U.S. National Library of Medicine; MedLine Plus Medical Encyclopedia, "Screen time and children"; https://www.nlm.gov
2 National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief, No 157, July 2014: TV Watching and computer Use in U.S. Youth Aged 12-15, 2012; http://www.cdc.gov
3 National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief
4 National Institutes of Health
5 The Dallas Morning News, "Too much screen time is harmful for children; what can parents do?"; http://www.dallasnews.com
6 National Institutes of Health
7 The Dallas Morning News
8 Las Angeles Times, "Study Makes Surprising Link Between TV Time and Childhood Obesity"; http://www.latimes.com
9 The American Journal of Family Therapy, "Examining the Interface of Family and Personal Traits, Media, and the Academic Imperatives Using the Learning Habit Study"; http://goodparentinc.com
10 The New York Times, "Screen Addiction if Taking a Toll on Children"; http://well.blogs.nytimes.com
11 The Dallas Morning News
12 The American Journal of Family Therapy
13 American Academy of Pediatrics, "Media and Children"; https://www.aap.org
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