“Television has changed a child from an irresistible force to an immovable object.”
― Author Unknown
“Screen Time” is any time a person spends in front of a screen whether it’s a television, a Smartphone, a tablet such as an iPad or Kindle, playing video games such as Xbox or PlayStation, or using a laptop or desktop computer.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that kids ages 8-18 spend an average of 7 hours (or more!) per day using screens! It’s no wonder when today's child lives in a house with an average of 4 TVs, nearly 3 DVD players or VCRs, 1 DVR, 2 CD players, 2 radios, 2 video game consoles, and 2 computers. Japanese researchers found that kids who watch screens the most had a buildup of extra gray matter in the area of their brain linked to intellect. This abundance of gray matter does not mean they are more capable but rather they score lower on verbal tests.
The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages “screen time” before age 2 when brain development is most rapid. They also advise that you limit screen time to no more than two hours a day after that.
Compared to kids who have less than 2 hours of screen time, kids who have more than 2 hours of screen time per day are more likely to:
Be less physically active
Drink more sugary drinks
Snack on foods high in sugar, salt, and fat
Have fewer social interactions and therefore problems socializing
Have poor cognitive performance
Get less sleep
Be less creative
Researchers (Zimmerman, Giuseppe, & McCarty) found that for every hour of television a kid watches, they are 10 percent more likely to have problems with inattention. If your child watches 3 hours of TV per day, they are 30 percent more likely to have problems focusing!
Ideas for decreasing your child’s screen time:
Remove screens from their bedroom (TV, computer, tablet, etc.).
Turn off the TV during supper (you too mom and dad).
Let the child pick their favorite shows to watch and make a schedule for them.
Incorporate a family game night to avoid mindlessly watching TV because there’s nothing else to do.
Create a “screen free” zone in your house.
Promote outdoor play, reading a book or newspaper, and other hobbies that will encourage your child to use their imagination!