Is Too Much Screen Time Dangerous?

Is Too Much Screen Time Dangerous?

It’s easy to default to “screen time” when we need to keep our kids occupied. After all, it’s no secret that parents don’t get many breaks during the day.

The constant attention our kids need can be exhausting and prevent us from being able to get just about anything done.  Placing your child in front of the television is an easy way to get a brief moment to pull dinner together or have a conversation with your spouse.  While this is tempting, is too much screen time dangerous for our little ones? After a recently published study in JAMA Pediatrics, it’s becoming clearer that excessive screen time may effect our children’s development. 

At Child Safety Store, we take the health of our children very seriously. So, in today’s blog post, let’s take a closer look at the consequences of screen time.

How Does Screen Time Affect Our Kids? 

Screen time is typically considered any time that a child spends in front of a screen. Countless devices have taken hold of our daily lives, including TVs, computers, video games, smartphones and tablets. It’s no wonder the study mentioned above shows that, over the course of its research from 1994 through 2014, the average daily time a child aged two years old and under spent in front of a screen has doubled – from 1.32 hours to 3.05 hours.

Dozens of studies have presented scientific research about screen time habits and its connection to the wellbeing of children. To say the least these studies, when compared collectively, are inconclusive.

Some have linked excessive screen time with a decline in the development of skills like concentration and communication. For instance, a National Institutes of Health study found that children who spend two hours or more a day in front of a screen got lower scores on thinking and language tests. An abundance of screen time can also result in missed childhood experiences like creative playtime and playing outdoors with friends. 

It is worth noting that engaging with screens, particularly on interactive devices like video games, can especially be helpful to people who are socially isolated or who typically have limited interactions, such as someone with Asperger Syndrome. This time can establish social relationships and exchanges through their screens that they may otherwise miss. 

How Much Screen Time is Okay?

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that screen time, other than video-chatting, be completely avoided until kids are 18 months old. Overall however, screen time isn’t always frowned upon. It can be helpful in a pinch, as long as it is doled out in moderation!  When allowed sparingly, it can contribute to a balanced lifestyle.

For children aged 18 to 24 months, AAP recommends only “high-quality programming.” For kids who are two to five years old, time spent should be capped at one hour of television. Preferably, this would be an educational program that is watched along with a parent. These recommendations were directly mirrored by World Health Organization as well. 

Limiting Screen Time 

The bottom line is that some screen time isn’t going to hurt our kids if it is one piece of the overall puzzle.  Set a limited amount of screen interaction for your children, but be sure to balance it with other activities.

Kids can develop healthy lifestyle habits at an early age. Enforce toys that boost developmental learning. This type of playtime keeps young children engaged. To help you stick to your guns when you’re in a pinch, keep books and other learning toys in both your car and diaper bag for easy and quick access when you need to occupy your little one!

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