Children & Screen Time

Think about your everyday routine. What is an integral part of your day? Most people would agree that technology is something that they utilize every day. In the 21st century, technology has been evolving so steadily, that we have accepted it as a constant part of our day to day lives. This can also be the case for kids, as more and more schools have integrated some sort of technology in their lectures and homework. Most children in grade school are now able to navigate electronic devices more effectively than the average adult.

The use of phones, smartwatches, video games, tablets, and computers have facilitated our lives on various levels, but how does this affect us negatively? More specifically, our children? Many studies have been conducted that link excessive screen time to obesity, and less physical strength.

 According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, they recommend that children under 2 years of age should have no screen time. It is also recommended that children over 2 years of age should be restricted to less than 2 hours of screen time per day. As you can already imagine, many people allow their children to exceed the recommended amount. Many parents believe that screen time can be justified if the content is considered educational. However, it has been found that the educational value of the content does not exceed the drawbacks that come from the overexposure.

“I don’t want to upset him” or “I don’t have time to give her attention right now” are the most common arguments parents make to justify overexposing their children to television.  As parents, it’s understandable that we don’t always have time, but too much screen time in the early stages of a child’s development can be detrimental to their development.

 During early childhood, children gain locomotive skills while engaging in playtime, and other activities that require movement.  If the child is not moving, they are not developing their locomotive skills.  As a result, there have been many studies that show that children who have more screen time have significantly less strength. These results were found by conducting a variety of exercises including leg extensions, pull-ups, planks, and grip strength. This same study found that children with more screen time are more prone to headaches and backaches.

Television is the most common source of screen time among children. A link has been found between increased screen time and obesity. How is this so? Television contains many advertisements that can influence a child’s eating habits. A child is prone to choosing what they eat based on what they are shown. This link is more dominant with younger children and not so much kids in their teens.  In other words, less screen time may just lead to less arguing with your little one at the grocery store.

Overall, we have found that young children who are overexposed to a screen are more prone to obesity, so what can we do about it? While we understand that coexisting with technology in the modern age is inevitable, the right balance can be found. Some televisions and screen time may be educational, but the disadvantages can be greater. Finding a middle ground will allow us to benefit from it, while limiting the consequences that can result from it.