It’s hard to know how much screen time is too much, especially when technology is all around us.
Are you unsure of what parameters you should set around screen time with your children? Are you concerned there’s a correlation between screen time and behavioral issues? And, of course, are you frustrated because your children won’t respond to you when they’re looking at their phones or tablets? We’ve got you covered.
Screen Time Recommendations by Age
Here are the screen time recommendations by age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
- For children younger than 18 months: Avoid screen time, except for video-chatting with family and friends.
- For children aged 18 to 24 months: Introduce high-quality, educational programming and limit screen time to no more than one hour per day while co-viewing with a parent or caregiver.
- For children aged 2 to 5 years: Limit non-educational screen time to no more than one hour per day during the week and 3 hours per day during the weekend.
- For children aged 6 years and older: Establish consistent limits on the time spent using screens, and ensure that screen time does not interfere with sleep or physical activity. The AAP recommends no more than 2 hours per day of recreational screen time.
Are There Positive Effects of Screen Time?
While excessive screen time can have negative effects on children’s health and development, there are also some positive effects of screen time when it is used appropriately and in moderation. Here are some examples:
- Educational Benefits: Screen time can provide children with access to educational resources and tools, such as online learning platforms, educational games, and interactive educational programs.
- Social Connections: Screen time can help children stay connected with family and friends who are far away, especially during times of physical distancing or isolation.
- Cognitive Development: Certain types of screen time, such as playing video games or solving puzzles, can improve problem-solving, memory, and other cognitive skills.
- Creativity: Screen time can provide children with tools for creative expression, such as digital art apps, video editing software, and music production tools.
- Exposure to Diversity: Screen time can expose children to different cultures, languages, and perspectives, which can help them develop empathy and understanding for others.
It’s important to note that the positive effects of screen time depend on the content and quality of what children are watching or interacting with, as well as the amount of time spent using screens. Parents should ensure that their children’s screen time is balanced with other activities, such as physical activity, social interaction, and time spent in nature.
Is There a Link Between Screen Time and Behavior Problems?
There is some research that suggests a link between excessive screen time and behavior problems in children, although the relationship is complex and can vary depending on factors such as the type of screen time, the content of what is being watched, and the individual child’s temperament and circumstances.
For example, a study published in JAMA Pediatrics in 2019 found that increased screen time was associated with lower levels of brain development in preschool-aged children, which in turn was associated with lower levels of cognitive and language skills and increased levels of behavior problems.
Another study published in JAMA Pediatrics in 2018 found that increased screen time was associated with higher levels of attention problems, hyperactivity, and impulsivity in preschool-aged children.
However, it’s important to note that correlation does not necessarily mean causation, and that other factors such as parenting practices, socioeconomic status, and genetics may also play a role in behavior problems. Furthermore, the type and quality of screen time can also impact the effects on a child’s behavior.
In today’s digital age, screen time has become a ubiquitous part of our lives, especially for children. By prioritizing a balanced approach to your children’s screen time, you can help your child reap the benefits of technology while minimizing any potential risks.
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