Screen Time: How Much Is Too Much?

To read this article in Marathi, click here: स्क्रीन टाइम : शाप की वरदान?

Parenting is the practice which focuses on child’s physical, emotional, intellectual and social development. Today, we live in “technical era”. Due to this new technical or information technology thing, parenting has become very challenging. Many parents are facing the big problem of “SCREEN TIME” for their kids. Some parents are aware of how much screen time is good for their kids, but some are not! Hence, I decided to write about it.

So, what is screen time? Screen time means how much time you spend on electronic devices like T.V., smartphones, video games, computer, tablets, iPads etc. Screen time is the primary source of information, learning, entertainment and socialization. For the healthy mental and physical growth of a child, there should be adequate physical activity, healthy nutrition, good sleep hygiene, and a nurturing social environment. It is very important to balance between screen time/online time and other activities.

Benefits of screen time:

  • It makes life easy!
  • Educational sites and apps will help children to draw, write, learn spellings, read, improve listening skills and speech
  • It can help children with creativity, analytical thinking, imagination
  • It makes communication easier and faster (examples are phone calls, face time, Skype etc)
  • It helps to connect and stay connected with people anywhere in the world (mobile phones, text messages, emails, fax machines, video chat, social media etc)
  • Some apps help you to share your talents and skills with others
  • Easiest tool for shopping and entertainment!
  • Video games help to improve motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination
  • It can help you stay motivated and build confidence
  • It is very useful for school students. Homework can be given online, completed homework can be submitted online, one single chrome book can replace heavy backpack. It is the easiest way for teachers and parents to stay connected.
  • It can be used to do physical activities/exercises at home which can save time and money.
  • It is the great resource for distant learning.
  • You can search for jobs, have interview online, can do work from home, attend meetings/conferences via webinars and the list goes on!

If technology is so beneficial, why are we worrying about it?? As you know, anything too much is poison!

Screen time can be two types: Active Vs passive screen time:

Passive screen time is when a child receives information from the screen or an app or a game through mindless repetition. No thought, creativity or interaction is required to progress. Examples are: monitoring social media, watching videos on Youtube, playing repetitive games and binge watching shows.

On the contrary, active screen time involves engagement in the process of device usage.  Examples are: making Youtube videos, playing educational games, editing pictures, coding a website, drawing a picture. It can help with language, social and physical skills development. Educational apps help children to practice letters, numbers, and spelling.

Let’s see the negative impact of screen time 1:

  • Increase in anxiety and aggression if no access to screen
  • Negatively affects on emotional regulation
  • Decrease in ability to recognize facial emotions and non-verbal cues
  • Sleep deprivation: poor sleep and less sleep. Blue light from the screen shuts down the release of sleep hormone, melatonin which is necessary for sleep
  • Screen time keeps children indoors. Exposure to natural daylight is critical to developing eyes. Eyes get tired with prolonged close-focus attention. Long screen time  cause the eyes to get dry and irritated.
  • Creates habit for instant gratification
  • Decrease in focus and attention span which can affect their learning
  • Sensory overload
  • Screen addiction can cause shrinkage of some parts of the brain
  • It is also linked to depression
  • Exposure to violence, inappropriate advertises and language
  • Less social interaction
  • Less engagement with family and friends
  • Speech and language delays
  • Children get less time to do physical activities, leading to obesity and diabetes

In children younger than 2 years of age, cognitive, language, sensorimotor, and social-emotional skills are still developing, which require hands-on exploration and social interaction.

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommendations 2:

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting.
  • Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  • For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
  • Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
  • Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.

There is the only one way to manage kids’ screen time and that is parenting! It is up to the parents to establish the rules and guidelines regarding age appropriate screen time. It is very possible to regulate screen time using nothing more than words. Sometimes, some parental control tools like software and apps can be used if needed.

Screen has become a part of our life. So, we can not avoid it, but we should use it wisely to get more benefits and less negative effects of it!






3 Replies to “Screen Time: How Much Is Too Much?”

  1. Well written article,
    Useful, precise and balanced writing.
    Questions arising in mind of many parents are answered in single article with specific guidelines. Thanks for covering this topic.

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