Do you need to limit your child’s screen time?

Be cautious of possible negative impacts on your children due to excessive screen time.

Defined by Medline Plus, a service of U.S. National'' Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, under the topic Screen time and children; screen time is defined as any time spent in front of a screen. This includes a television,  computer, hand held devices and any other technology with images on a screen. Michigan State University Extension recommends that screen time for children and adults is limited.

Mayo Clinic’s article Children and TV: Limiting your child's screen time suggests that it’s easy to go overboard on screen time because it’s easy to justify screen time if it’s educational. It’s important to keep in mind that even reading using a screened device should be counted as screen time. Screen time should have limits. Children under the age of two should have no screen time and those over age 2 should be limited to one to two hours of screen time per day.

There are big reasons behind limiting screen time. Too much screen time has been linked to the following:

  • Obesity:   Watching TV is a sedentary activity. Children who spend too much time on screens do not get the physical activity that their bodies need. Children should get at least 60 minutes of activity each day.
  • Irregular sleep: Some research suggests that screen time may interfere with sleep. Screen viewing close to bedtime may be a habit to change.
  • Lower grades or lower academic performance: Children with TVs in their bedrooms may perform worse on tests than their counterparts who don’t have TVs in their rooms.
  • Less time for activity: Children who spend too much time watching a screen don’t spend as much time being physically active. Screen time may also limit creative play. Both are important to a child’s development.

Turn off the screen an hour before bedtime and don’t use the television as a way to provide background noise. Screen time may be something to mention to your child’s caregiver as well.

If you think that screen time is being overused in your home or you want to track how much time your family is spending watching a screen use The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s We Can! Screen Time Chart to determine if screen habits need to change.

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