In 2023, most households have televisions, computers, and tablets. Should children have screen time? If so, how long and how often? The Kangaroo Forest shares insights from the latest research on screen time for children:
There are many positive and negative effects of prolonged screen time. Screen time can be great for a child’s language development. Many TV shows and games geared toward young children are designed to support them in expanding their vocabulary and learning to communicate with others. Additionally, many educational programs encourage children to think critically to solve problems and come up with creative solutions. Even non-educational programs get those mental gears turning; with screen time, children will begin questioning things they don’t understand about the world around them. Finally, playing games on tablets or phones allows children to hone their fine motor skills, as many of these games require precision.
However, excessive screen time is also linked to health concerns like obesity, as it supports a more sedentary lifestyle. A child that’s addicted to the TV or their tablet is less likely to play outside and get physical activity. Furthermore, screen time can affect a child’s sleep, as electronic devices emit blue light which stimulates the part of the brain that suppresses melatonin production. Finally, it isn’t always easy to monitor everything your child is doing; with access to the internet and a variety of adult-rated streaming titles, children may be exposed to material that is not suitable for their young minds.
With screens at our fingertips, children are bound to get their hands on one at some point. Often, it is easier to turn on your child’s favorite TV show or movie when you need a moment to breathe. So, what are acceptable limits on screen time? How much is too much?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under the age of 2 should have little to no screen time. However, it is safe for older children to have 1-2 hours of screen time a day.
Even with good intentions, screen time can become a slippery slope. Children can easily become addicted to stimulating media; 1-2 hours a day slowly becomes 3-4 hours when parents realize they can keep their children entertained and increase productivity. However, moderation is key in developing a healthy relationship with technology. To maintain healthy screen time limits, try these three things:
Avoid eating meals on the couch in front of the TV
Avoid using the TV for background noise while cleaning or performing other household chores
Keep all electronics in the living room and only allow children to use the devices under supervision (do not allow your children to use/keep tablets, phones, TVs, etc. in their bedrooms)
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