Children are surrounded by electronic gadgets and are becoming addicted to them. It is an alarming situation as they spent a major part of their day watching screens. Kids are using mobile phones, tablets, laptops as their toys which negatively affect their mental and physical health.
According to research done by the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), children ages 8- 10 years spend about 6 hours per day in front of a screen, children ages 11-14 spend about 9 hours per day, and kids aged 15-18 spend almost 8 hours per day.
These screen times are too much for children and need to be controlled. Parents have to play a vital role to keep check the on-screen time of their kids and monitor the content they are watching.
Appropriate screen time for children
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics following are the appropriate screen times for kids with different age groups.
Kids under 18 months
Kids under 18 months should have no screen time. They can only video call their family for a few minutes. Children at an early age learn from observations and physical activity, engaging in screen time will halt their learning process.
Children Between 18-24 months
Children aged 18-24 months can be introduced to the world of electronic gadgets. They could have quality screen time that helps them to learn new skills and improve their cognitive abilities. The screen time should be less than an hour and they should watch it with their parents. Solo screen time should not be allowed.
Kids aged 2-5 years
Kids aged 2-5 years should be allowed 1 hour of screen time. Parents should keep their children closer while children are interacting with the internet or TV shows. When children are using gadgets parents should make sure that they are using the option of parental control and blocking all the inappropriate content. They should preview their children’s TV shows, video games, apps, and other content. Parents should not allow anything inappropriate.
Children above 6 years
Children above six should have moderate screen time. Parents should decide how many hours are appropriate for their kids. Parents should not use cell phones before sleeping or watch screens during a meal. It is essential because kids learn from their parent’s actions. Tech-free timing and zones should be practiced.
Effects of too much screen time
Too much screen time is detrimental to children’s health. Studies have shown that it is causing anxiety, depression, and behavior problems among children. Children learn from physical games and interacting with parents and other kids. Unfortunately when children spend more time watching screens their mental and physical development slows down.
Watching more screen time is also causing obesity in children. Children are provoked to drink soft drinks and eat fast food after watching their advertisements on screens. They feel lazy and show a lack of interest in physical activity; as a result, their bones and muscles become weak in their developing age.
Eyesight is affected by spending too much time on screens. Due to exposure to blue light, sleep quality deteriorates. Hence, when the kids wake up in the morning they feel lazy and lethargic.
Children who spend more than normal hours watching screens become weak in academic studies. Their critical and analytical thinking abilities are reduced.
Parents should encourage children to play physical games, read books, and interact with other children in this way kids will have a lesser urge to use electronic gadgets. Parents should also monitor their own screen time and reduce it if necessary. Remember children learn a lot from their parents’ habits.