In a previous blog (November 2019), I provided a brief summary of the consequences of screen time for children. Additional research by the American Academy of Pediatrics demonstrates the alarming effects that smartphones, tablets, computers, and other devices have on children’s physical and emotional health.
Screen viewing time has dramatically increased in the last two decades: from 3 to 7 hours a day. That is a 133% increase! The lack of genuine social interactions has led to obesity, behavior problems, and depression. Brains require interactions with the outside world to develop. The AAP strongly recommends no television viewing or screen exposure for children younger than two years of age. For older children as well as adolescents, they characterize overuse of screen time as more than two hours a day. Research indicates that brains are more active when sleeping than when watching television or a movie. Unsupervised use of screens also provides access to inappropriate content. Thus, APA advice to parents is clear and succinct:” . . . choose to parent in a way that best supports your child’s growth to become a fully developed, self-actualized, productive citizen of the world.” Be a responsible parent. Be involved! Closely monitor your child’s time and activities. Share time, the most valuable resource you can give your child. The Center for Parenting provides suggestions to promote media literacy. Among these:
- television and book discussions when family members compare movies with the books from which they derived
- using educational programs to expand children’s interests
- panel discussions after viewing
- predicting the next scene or ending
With a little imagination, family members can develop many enjoyable screen-free activities that can not only deepen their relationships with with their children, but also enhance their children’s physical and emotional health Kill those screens!