Why You Should Limit Screen Time For Children

There a number of very important reasons to limit screen time for children. The unfortunate reality of today’s modern society is that children are exposed to far more screen time than any parent would like. Between televisions, computers, tablets and phones, children are completely over-exposed to this technological attraction. All too often, it can be easier to simply put a child in front of a screen to keep them busy for an hour while parents go about their day trying to keep the home running smoothly.

While this may be a short term solution, it is absolutely a long term liability. Many parents think nothing of their children spending a couple of hours a day in front of a TV or computer, but this can have serious implications. There are real dangers to children that are exposed to too much screen time, and the repercussions are becoming more and more common.

Poor Mental Development

It has been statistically proven time and time again that children who have access to a television in their room perform more poorly on exams and tests in school than those that don’t. The allure of television to young children is simply too great, and it is our job as parents to limit this access. This should include televisions and computers in the bedroom.

Physical Development Stunted

The more television that children watch, the fatter they are. That may sound harsh, but it is true. Every hour a child spends sitting in front of a TV is an hour not spent running around with friends, cycling a bike or climbing a tree. Children should have active lifestyles, and sitting in front of the television for hours on end stunts their physical growth and encourages obesity. Additionally, children that eat meals in front of the TV are most at risk. Meals should always be eaten at a table, with the TV switched off.

Possible Indecent Exposure

How confident are you that you know exactly what your child is watching on the television at all times? How confident are you that their computer game contains suitable themes? How confident are you about who they are interacting with on the internet? TV and video games aside, the internet is a very dangerous place that is absolutely unsuitable for young children. Any internet activity should be completely supervised, while all video games and television programs should be age appropriate. The longer children spend in front of the screen, the less you know about what they are looking at.

Child Sleeping Disruption

Digital interaction late at night affects brainwaves in a particular way, and often causes difficulties for young children trying to get to sleep. For this reason, all televisions and computers should be turned off some time before the scheduled bed time to allow children the best opportunity for a sound night’s sleep. Additionally, it is important that children NOT have access to computers or televisions in their bedrooms. If they can access it, they will access it. Sleep disruption affects mental and physical development, and it should be avoided at all costs.

American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use

Today's children are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices. To help kids make wise media choices, parents should develop a Family Media Use Plan for everyone in their family.

Problems begin when media use displaces physical activity, hands-on exploration and face-to-face social interaction in the real world, which is critical to learning. Too much screen time can also harm the amount and quality of sleep. Organizations like Common Sense Media can help parents evaluate media content and make decisions about what is appropriate for their family. More here

Among the AAP recommendations:

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they're seeing.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  • For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
  • Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
  • Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.