The average amount of time children are spending in front of a screen is seven hours a day (AAP). This includes time spent in front of the TV, on the computer, on a phone, or on any other electronic device. That is the number of hours most of us spend at our full-time job (minus our lunch hour). That is a devastating number! When parents and doctors hear that kids are spending enough time in front of a screen to qualify it as a full-time job, it is easier to understand why there is such an epidemic of obesity in our country.
There are both short term and long term detriments that come with too much screen time. There are links between excessive screen time and attention problems, sleep disorders, eating disorders, and increases in risky behavior, like alcohol and tobacco use. These risks are higher when screen time is not geared towards education and learning.
Signs for Screen Free time
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ages 3-18 should limit screen time to two hours a day. In addition, to the recommendation of screen time being limited to two hours a day, it is also recommended that content be limited to high quality and educational material. A recent study titled Five days at outdoor education camp or school residentials without screens improves skills with nonverbal emotion cues showcased just another reason why limiting screen time is important. Other activities that promote brain development is using imagination, creating games or pretending, playing outdoors, reading, and building.
Websites and Blogs like www.babydickey.com are full of useful tools to help you establish healthy screen free time
In a world full of screens, limiting time in front of one to less than two hours a day is a challenge. However, it is becoming more evident that cutting screen time down can improve not only social skills, but also help prevent detrimental health conditions like obesity, attention disorders, and sleep disorders. So perhaps the best prescription for a child with any of these conditions would be one that includes time spent outdoors playing and discovering nature.