Minimizing screen time can help reduce adverse effects on children's health.
What counts as screen time?
Any sedentary activity in front of a screen counts, and multiple types of screen time can add up to 7 hours daily, not counting time spent at school or for homework:
- Watching television
- Working/playing on a computer
- Playing video games
- Using a smartphone or tablet
Too much screen time is becoming an epidemic:
- 8- to 12-year-olds spend about 6 hours on screen daily
- 13- 18-year-olds spend about 9 hours on screen daily
Screen time has been linked with a number of negative effects on children
- Commercials can promote unhealthy eating choices.
- Children eat more when they are watching TV, especially if they see ads for food.
Lack of sleep
- 57% of study participants texted, tweeted or messaged after lights out.
- Blue light from screens has a similar effect to caffeine.
Problems in school
- A correlation has been found between increased screen time and lower grades.
- Pain in fingers, wrists, neck and back
- Narrowed eye blood 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.
- Keep TVs and computers outside the 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.