Minimizing children’s screen time used to be as simple as keeping the TV off, but today’s world has made it much more complicated. Nearly half of children have their own smartphone or tablet by age 8, which makes it easy to spend far too much time on them and access content that is not age appropriate. In addition, many children are learning remotely, which means that even good screen time has increased to the point where it may negatively affect them. At Bard & Didriksen Pediatrics, we are here to help parents develop strategies for protecting children from a variety of problems associated with too much screen time.
Potential effects of too much screen time
Too much screen time can have significant effects on school performance and overall development, particularly for younger children. According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, spending more than two hours per day on tablets, smartphones or watching television can lead to a decrease in language and thinking skills. Spending more than seven hours on screens per day can cause problems with brain development, including a thinning cortex. Young children who spend too much time using screens also spend less time engaging with and learning about the world around them. Using screens too late in the evening can also cause sleep problems, which can impact learning and overall health.
Keep screen time age appropriate
Age appropriate screen time varies significantly between birth and the teen years. Babies under 18 and 24 months have the highest need to absorb information about the people and things around them and should not have screen time. Toddlers should be limited to no more than an hour of educational screen time per day, as more can inhibit their language development and other learning needs. Parents of children between the ages of 6 and 12 should set limits on the amount of time spent on screens, monitoring shows, videos, games and other content to ensure they are age appropriate. Teens should have screen-free times and locations to allow for appropriate breaks, even if they are learning online.
Prioritize activities other than screens
Children who spend too much time absorbed in screens often have a hard time getting interested in other activities, so building their interest in other activities when they are young is a must. Children should spend plenty of time playing outside and with educational toys, as well as participating in music, dance, sports and other activities to help them develop properly and form lifelong interests outside their screens.
At Bard & Didriksen Pediatrics, we prioritize helping parents set age appropriate screen time guidelines to set their children up for success later in life. Contact us for more tips for reducing screen time today.