Children these days are constantly in front of electronic devices. They may be playing games, watching TV, working on a computer, or browsing social media. It can be hard to keep them off devices when it’s so easy for them to get hooked. But is screen time bad? How much is too much?
There are many benefits to the various devices we use daily. Children can learn through educational videos and games. They can build social connections with friends. Downtime spent on various devices can be therapeutic for children who are struggling with anxiety or depression.
But too much screen time can also have negative effects. It can lead to many issues for your child. It’s important to know what those issues are so that you can recognize them if they occur. Some of those problems can include:
Children who spend a lot of time sitting in front of screens are more likely to be overweight. If they’re not getting the exercise they need and possibly filling up on unhealthy snacks at the same time, they can gain too much weight. This can lead to other health problems like diabetes and heart disease.
Studies have shown that children who spend six hours or more a day watching TV and playing video games have lower reading, math, and overall grades.
Increased Aggression or Depression
Too much time in front of electronic devices can also increase aggression and depression in children. Studies have shown that this can affect how your child views themselves. If your child has a negative self-view, they may develop higher levels of aggressive behavior. They also may become depressed, which can lead to self-harming behavior.
Behavioral problems can show up as your child may become more hyperactive or defiant. They may also have a harder time paying attention in school.
Decreased Social Interaction
Too much time on electronic devices can also lead to decreased social interactions for your child. It takes away from family time and can interfere with a child’s ability to play without an electronic distraction.
So How Much is Too Much?
It really depends on your child and their individual needs. If your child is spending a lot of their time in front of a screen and you start to notice behavior problems or health issues, then this may be an issue.
How to Set Screen Time Rules
But screen time isn’t all bad. There can be many benefits. It’s also not realistic for your child to live without electronic devices in today’s world. Luckily, there are ways you can regulate how much time your child is getting.
- Set electronic device-free times during the day. You can schedule times in your home when all devices are put away or turned off. These could be during meals, before bedtime, or any other time of the day that you feel is necessary.
- Limit device time to two hours or less each day. You can set time limits that are appropriate for your child based on their age and needs.
- Choose appropriate device activities for your child. This could be screen time that is educational, social, or therapeutic.
- Monitor your child’s electronic device use. You should keep track of your child’s screen time use to make sure they’re not going over the limits you’ve set.
- Make sure the content is appropriate.
Screen time can have both positive and negative effects on children. The key is in managing your child’s time to be more beneficial than harmful. Talk to your child about this. Set up rules. Choosing helpful and positive activities will make sure they’re getting the most out of their screen time.