Recommended Screen Time For Kids: How Much is Too Much?
What is screen time?
The amount of time that we spend on using devices with a screen is called “screen time.” When we watch television shows, playing video games, and using our phones and computers, the time that we spend or sometimes waste is monitored by our devices. Screen time is an activity that requires almost no effort at all. This means that you can be physically inactive while doing something which is watching on your device. This type of activity is referred to as a sedentary activity.
In this era, many of us possess at least one gadget with a screen. May it be for entertainment purposes, studies, work, or business, having at least one device is necessary. And studies show that screen time during the pandemic has surged. Most people use these gadgets to work at home, study online, or just for passing time whenever boredom seems to consume them. however, the possession of these devices is not limited to adults. Children’s addiction to gadgets has been noticed by a lot of adults.
Many kids nowadays, even toddlers, have their own devices such as tablets and phones. Some parents give these to their children for different reasons such as for games, learning, and even just to aid tantrums, which play a significant effect on children’s behavior.
In this blog, I will be discussing several effects of too much screen time on children.
How screen time affects your kid
Too much sometimes is not good and this applies to screen time. Too much screen time has many effects on people, especially on children. Children are given their leisure to use their gadgets for fun and learning. However, sometimes when unsupervised by the elders, they tend to overuse these devices that leads to too much screen exposure. This issue had been a hot topic to some researchers and they have proven some of the effects of too much screen time on selected test subjects which in this blog, are the children.
Studies have proven too much screen time affects children’s sleep. Blue light is a light with blue wavelengths, that can also be found in screens of our devices, which is supposedly great for daytime due to its capacity to keep us awake and alert. However, since it makes our brains more alert, it is bad for us at night. This blue light inhibits melatonin which is the hormone responsible for promoting healthy sleep and helping orient our circadian rhythm. This being said, simply indicates that exposure to blue light at night before sleeping may cause insomnia since our brain and body have been more alert due to the exposure to blue light.
Children’s sleeping pattern is not the only thing that too much exposure to screens affects. The learning ability of these children is also at stake. Sleeping late due to using too many devices at night can affect the behavior and performance of these children in school and may have a significant impact on their learning. Many studies have shown that toddlers learning from a video are not as effective as learning from another person. it was shown that interaction with toddlers makes them learn more since they get to interact and learn by doing unlike from watching videos where there is only one way of learning and that is to imitate what they are seeing without the chance to learn on the mechanics.
Surely, educational videos are interesting and may sound fun but learning by watching requires more playbacks therefore more screen time for the children. Studies have shown that although children will watch television for several months, they will not understand the content until after they turn two years old. Videos that are supposed to teach children are quite captivating, but it does not necessarily mean that these children are learning a lot from them.
Interaction with adults has shown rapid language development in toddlers aged 1.5 to 3 years old. Compared to just watching language videos over and over again, interaction and practice with adults have a significant effect on children’s learning, especially language. One of the reasons for the rapid development of children’s learning abilities is that adults can demonstrate several meanings and applications of the words unlike in the videos that the image is shown to the learners.
Some studies have also provided evidence that children who watch too much television perform less well on reading exams. Also, teaching by demonstration and application is way more effective than watching video lessons. One example of this is the science laboratory activities. Children learn way better and faster when they apply what they read to a real-life experiment.
Scrolling through social media sometimes makes us forget about time. This is one of the problems with these devices, it’s addictive. Once you put your attention to it, it’s hard to move away from it and it will end up with us just wasting our time. However, we cannot deny the fact that these gadgets are convenient and it’s hard to go on with our day without them since there are almost infinite ways how we can use these in our lives.
From simply making phone calls and texts to paying bills, it is not a surprise that parents and adults can use these devices to help them deal with children may it be during a wild tantrum or just by distracting them from crying because of falling. This might be a quick effective way to distract these children but in the long run, this effect might fade away since these gadgets are not permanent. I have mentioned that these devices can help to calm a tantrum but once they get a hold of that device and start watching Cocomelon, it would be a struggle to take the tablet away from them and once you insist, they might let that horrifying screams out again. And now we’re back to giving them the tablet for them to calm down.
Recommended Screen Time for Kids
Like any other activity, there are time limits of how often or how long should we be doing such activities, and in this part of the blog, let’s talk about the appropriate screen time for children according to their age.
Under Two Years Old
Infants are very sensitive since they haven’t fully developed their body and exposure to screens might be crucial. This is why Pediatrician Dr. Ameera Nauman from OSF Health Care has this rule where patients under 2 years of age are not allowed to be exposed to screens. Brain’s neural networks are still developing at this stage until they turn 5 years old Dr. Nauman emphasized that learning during this stage should be done through personal contact. She also stated that the minds of these infants should be nourished by playing, singing, and other activities and that no TV should be around them to avoid distractions. Also, TV can interfere with the ability of these children to play and interact.
With that being said, infants (under the age of 2) should have absolute zero screen time at all times even in the background.
Two to Five Years Old
At age two, babies have learned few words from interacting and playing with adults and although there can be live language tutorials, Dr. Nauman advised that parents should be facilitating the activity and should be there with the baby to reteach what the tutor has taught.
Five to 17 Years Old
Screen time at this age should be limited to 2 hours a day, excluding homework, as advised by Dr. Nauman. Children at this stage should be more physically active than stuck with watching videos and playing with their devices.
Moreover, these children should not use their devices at night especially before going to sleep since it would cause them to have trouble sleeping.
Long term effects
There had been several studies about the effects of short and long-term effects of screen time. Like any other form of leisure, too much use of these gadgets may lead to more serious problems than what has been mentioned above.
Studies have shown that too much screen time can be linked to obesity since children are being inactive staring at the screens, they are not doing any physical activities therefore not burning calories. This may lead to another issue which is bullying. Obese children are usually getting bullied at school and this will result in low self-esteem and isolation. Another issue is that insomnia they develop from using gadgets at night can be brought until they grow up. Lastly, which is the most common among these children are academic problems. Children who spend too much time on their screens have been shown to have worse academic performance.
Young learners should spend their childhood without the use of screens. One way to keep them entertained while learning is to give them toys that will be beneficial for them. Especially that development is crucial for kids.
TheSTEMKids Portable Microscope is a gadget invented for kids to have fun and learn! Beat the screen culture and enjoy quality time with your kids today.