Young children today are growing up in a highly technologically advanced world. Many of them have easy access to a variety of electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers, and television. These electronic devices are great sources of entertainment and they can even offer educational content, however, excessive screen time can be very harmful for young children.
How much is too much screen time?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents should impose a reasonable daily limit on their children’s screen time. For children aged 2 to 5, it is advisable to limit screen time to an hour of high-quality programming each day. There is no recommended amount of screen time for older children and parents should impose a limit as they see fit.
A 2010 study conducted by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that children between the ages of 8 to 18 were getting about 7.5 hours of screen time on average each day. If you think about it, this means that those kids probably spend nearly all their free time in front of a screen!
What are the consequences of excessive screen time?
Research has proven excessive screen time comes with a variety of negative consequences for young children, and there are much more than you think. Here are just a few of the more prominent ones below:
- Sleeping Difficulties: When young children are allowed to watch television or use electronic devices just before bedtime, it can impact their sleep. The light emitted from screens interferes with the body’s natural sleep cycle, which may lead to insomnia. This affects adults as well, but the effects are more detrimental in children as they require more sleep for their growth and development.
- Behavioral Issues: Elementary school-age children who use electronic devices or watch television for over 2 hours a day have been shown to display social, emotional, and attention problems. This means that they may have trouble focusing in school or have difficulty making friends and relating to their peers.
- Educational Problems: Elementary school-age children who have access to a television in their own bedroom have been shown to perform more poorly than their peers on academic testing.
- Violence and Aggression: Research has shown that regular exposure to violence in movies, TV shows, video games, and music can desensitize young children to violence and aggression. This means that they may try to imitate what they see on screen in and use violence in their everyday behavior. They may even view violence and aggression as an appropriate way to solve problems. It is important to remember that it is not just the screen time that is harmful as what is shown on the screen can have detrimental effects as well. Parents should restrict the content their children have access to, on top of limiting their screen time.
- Childhood Obesity: If children spend multiple hours in front of a screen each day, it likely means that they do not have time to do much else. This sort of sedentary lifestyle is a huge risk factor for childhood obesity, especially if it develops into a habit.