Less Screen Time Is Actually Healthy for Your Kids, Experts Say

If you’re the kind of parent that thinks distracting your child with video games or handhelds such as your phone or iPad to keep them out of your hair is smart, you’re in for a rude awakening.

While 30 minutes or less of screen time exposure for kids won’t cause any harm, experts in child psychiatry warn that too much time spent on devices could be detrimental to your child’s physical and mental health.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that up to 40% of children as young as three months old watch TV for extended hours. And the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) points out that young adults between 15 and 18 spend 7.5 hours minimum staring at a screen.

What’s the downside of all this screen time? A lack of socializing and human interaction that results in behavioral problems.

Signs and dangers of screen addiction in kids

For starters, your child is likely to be inattentive at home and school. They’ll also exhibit aggressive tendencies, some physical altercation, and other behavior suggestive of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms.

Plus, spending lots of time seated in front of a TV, phone, or computer screen takes away time that the child would have otherwise used for other equally valuable activities.

Think of playtime at the playground with other kids, riding a bike in the front yard, or having a quality one-on-one exchange with their caregiver or parent. Such social interactions help shape the child’s emotional behavior, and their absence increases the risk of behavioral problems.

You’ve got to appreciate that though kids in today’s technology-driven world grow fast, it still takes time to develop higher cognitive skills that help in self-regulation when it comes to screen time—all the more reason to cut down that screen time exposure.

What parents can do to cut down screen time for kids

The solution is pretty straightforward. All parents should strictly follow what the experts in this area advise.

Whether you’re reading from the script of the CDC, the AAP, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS), or Britain’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), be sure to follow the recommendations to the letter.

Do this:

  • Ensure zero screen time for children 24 months old and younger
  • Only allow one hour of screen time maximum for kids between two and five
  • When dealing with teenagers, involve them in creating a media plan that sets rules around using devices and screen time.

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it in the end.

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