The laundry is piling up. The dirty dishes are stacked in the sink. You have at least five e-mails that you need to respond to and you just need a little bit of quiet time in order to catch up and keep your sanity. So, you pop in a DVD and turn on your children’s favorite cartoon. Sound familiar? It is fine to do this every once in a while, of course! But if the TV, your laptop, your Kindle, or iPad, is your go-to for entertaining your kids so you can get things done, there’s a problem.
New research published by Common Sense Media showed that mobile media usage in young kids has tripled in only two years. Screen time isn’t just TV anymore – it’s texting, Facebook, and more. Increased media consumption is becoming the norm for children today, and studies show it isn’t good for their health. Excessive screen time is linked to poor academic performance, obesity, aggression, and poor sleep habits. According to a 2010 report published through Kaiser Family Foundation, children ages 8 to 18 spent an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day consuming media for fun – this included TV, music, videogames and other content in 2009. The report surveyed 2,002 third- through 12th-graders, 702 of whom completed a seven-day media use diary. That was up about an hour and 17 minutes a day from five years earlier, and what’s worse, two-thirds of participants said their parents had given them no guidelines on how much they could spend online or playing video games. (1)
Doctors recommend that children under two should have NO screen time at all and kids above age two should have no more than two hours of screen time each day. Their developing minds thrive on personal, one on one engagement and socialization, not sitting in front of a screen for hours on end. To be clear, there isn’t anything wrong with using technology regularly – there are many educational apps, video games, cartoons, and YouTube videos that are beneficial and can help your child learn, but use these in moderation!
Your children’s developing brains and personalities are incredibly unique and important. When it comes to monitoring your children’s intake of technology, do so carefully, taking into consideration doctor’s recommendations as well as what works well for your individual family. What works for one family, might not work for another. Consider how your child works best and remember that using technology as a digital babysitter may be convenient at the time, but in the end, it can have very devastating consequences.
- 1. Petersen, Andrea. “Pediatricians Set Limits on Screen Time.” The Wall Street Journal. Published online October 28, 2013. Accessed October 30, 2013. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304655104579163822957456490?tesla=y
By Brooke Strickland