How Much Screen Time Is Too Much for Kids?

For many parents, screen time is becoming a big problem, especially for younger kids who wants to watch videos and play games all day long. And as a mom or a dad, allowing them to use gadgets means giving you time to do important tasks at home without constant interruptions. Don’t worry, you don’t have to feel guilty because many parents do that, and it’s completely fine. However, excessive screen time can have detrimental effects on your child’s development. 

In this blog post, we will be discussing all about screen time, how much is too much, and the potential effects of excessive screen time for your kid. Let’s start!

How Much Screen Time Is Too Much

What Is Screen Time?

Screen time refers to the total amount of time a person spends using a device with a screen. This includes things like computers, smartphones, televisions, tablets, video game consoles, and more. Basically, any activity that involves staring at a screen counts towards screen time. 

You might ask, does it still count if I let them watch educational TV shows on Sling TV, for example? Well, yes, no matter the activity, it contributes to their total screen time. And while screens can be a tempting tool to keep kids occupied, unrestricted access can hinder their development in several ways.

How Much Screen Time Is Too Much for Kids?

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding screens altogether for children under 18 months, with limited educational programming for ages 18-24 months watched with a caregiver.  For older children, the focus shifts to quality over quantity.

Here’s a general guideline: 

  • Under 18 months: No screen time at all. Their little brains are growing rapidly, and they learn best through hands-on exploration and social interaction.
  • 18-24 months: Limited high-quality programming, ideally co-viewed with a caregiver. Think educational shows that encourage active participation, not passive watching.
  • 2-5 years old: Around 1 hour a day of high-quality programming is okay, but make it a shared experience. Watch with them, discuss what they’re seeing, and help them connect it to the real world.
  • 6 years and older: Here, the focus shifts to quality over quantity. No more than 2 hours a day, with the exception of homework. Create a healthy media plan that encourages other activities like reading, playing outside, and spending time with friends and family. Consider “screen-free” zones in your home, like bedrooms and mealtimes.

Potential Effects of Excessive Screen Time for Kids

Screens are everywhere these days, and keeping our kids off them can feel like a constant struggle. And even though there are a lot of educational TV shows on YouTube, Go Latino TV, Netflix, and other platforms, screen time is still screen time. While they can be a lifesaver for busy parents (hello, quiet time!), too much screen time can actually hurt your child’s development. 

Developmental Delays

Young children learn best by doing. They learn a lot by touching, playing with things, and exploring their surroundings. This hands-on experience helps their brains grow and develop. However, excessive screen time can take away from these important activities. Instead of building with blocks or drawing pictures, they’re just watching something on a screen. This can slow down their development in areas like physical skills, thinking creatively, and solving problems.

Sleep Issues

The blue light emitted by electronic devices can disrupt our natural sleep-wake cycle, also known as our circadian rhythm. This is especially true for young children whose sleep patterns are still developing. Spending too much time glued to a screen before bedtime can trick their brains into thinking it’s still daytime, which makes it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. You have to keep in mind that adequate sleep is essential for a child’s overall health, growth, and learning. When they’re sleep-deprived, they may experience fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.

Exposure to Inappropriate Content

The web is a hub of billions of individuals of all ages. Unrestricted access can expose them to inappropriate content, like violence, disturbing imagery, misinformation, or even cyberbullying. This can be upsetting or even frightening for them, which can cause emotional distress and anxiety as they grow older. 

Social and Emotional Problems

Social interaction is a critical part of growing up. It’s through face-to-face communication with others that children learn valuable social skills. They also develop emotional intelligence by playing and interacting with their peers. But excessive screen time can limit these crucial opportunities for social development. The more time they spend absorbed in the digital world, the less time they have to practice these essential skills in the real world, which can make it harder for them to connect with others and build positive relationships.

Conclusion

Screen time is inevitable in the world we’re living in today. However, even though that’s the case, you have the responsibility as a parent to protect your child from experiencing the negative effects of excessive screen time. So, just take a deep breath, put down your own device for a moment, and reconnect with your child. Let’s all be better parents so we can raise the best children. 

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