If you have a child between the ages of 8 and 18, odds are they spend a fair amount of time in front of a screen. Studies show the average child spends about 80 minutes a day watching TikTok videos. Mix that in with remote learning, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that kids were spending almost 8 hours a day total in front of a screen. Kids today are spending large parts of their day plopped in front of a screen. Too much screen time for young and developing brains can lead to a whole host of problems down the line.
Here is a quick guide on everything you need to know about how overusing electronics can affect your child, as well as when to know how much screen time is too much screen time.
What Can Happen as a Result of Too Much Screen Time?
It may seem innocent enough to set up your toddler with an iPad if you go out to a restaurant or park your tweens in front of the TV when they complain about being bored. But all that screen time can add up to create some very serious and negative side effects.
Here is a quick rundown on what can happen if your child gets too much screen time.
Kids who spend hours every day glued to their phone or iPad or watching too much Netflix are significantly more likely to experience a range of health issues. These health problems can include obesity, neck pain, bad posture, eye strain, and more.
Kids are less active and more sedentary than their counterparts who do not spend as much time on screens. Kids who spend hours on screens every day are also more likely to have poor diets. Children who are overweight with poor diets are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular issues as adults.
Plus, staying slumped over their screens or in chairs in front of their computer for hours on end can lead to stunted growth, backaches, and headaches.
Sleep is instrumental for your child’s brain development. Experts recommend toddlers get anywhere between 11 and 14 hours of sleep while teenagers get between 9 to 11 hours of sleep.
Screens are one of the biggest disruptors to your child’s sleep schedule. Prolonged exposure to screen, especially right before bed, can prevent your child from hitting the deep sleep cycles and result in getting a restless sleep.
This ultimately results in cranky, moody kids. No thank you.
Difficulty Learning and Paying Attention
Mobile games, Tik Tok videos, and social media scrolling makes all types of content quick, flashy, and condensed. Multiple studies have shown that kids who get too much screen time have difficulty focusing on tasks, have more trouble in school, and have shortened attention spans.
Toddlers who have a lot of screen time can have more delays in their speech than children who don’t spend more than one hour using a screen.
What Is the Right Amount of Screen Time for Each Age?
You will no doubt encounter those parents online or in your kid’s classes that brag about how they don’t let their kids have any screen time at all. Kudos to them, but let’s be real. It can feel damn near impossible in this digital age to prevent your kid from screen time.
Instead of feeling like you should be teaching a class on bad parenting, understand that it is okay if your child gets a little bit of structured screen time.
So, with that being said, how much screen time should your child be getting? Let’s break it down.
The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that those 18 months and under should not have any screen time, outside of video calls with family members. Kids 2 to 5 years old shouldn’t have more than one hour of high-quality, educational programming.
Middle schoolers should limit screen time to two hours a day, in addition to any homework they need to do on a screen. High school-aged teens should also try to limit screen time to two hours for entertainment each day.
How to Balance Screen Time and Parenting During COVID-19
While it can feel difficult to get in between your kids and electronics that they love so dearly, it can be done.
One important tip to remember is that it is not up to you to entertain your kids 24/7. Being bored is not an option. Let them have the freedom to explore things to do on their own terms, without a screen.
They can draw, read, create imaginary worlds, or build the most awesome fort or Lego castle imaginable. You can provide them with books, crayons and colored pencils, and the building blocks to entertain themselves.
Some of the best parenting books outline other good parenting strategies that can help you navigate the battle of how much screen time is too much screen time.
Looking for More Parenting Advice and Tips for Navigating Screen Time for Kids?
There were never any parenting classes that could have prepared moms and dads for the environment that COVID-19 created. Parents were required to fill more roles than ever. They needed to be teachers, doctors, friends, chefs, and cruise directors for their kids during these times of uncertainty.
If you are in need of parent mentoring or just looking for some positive parenting solutions to help you navigate screen time for kids, follow along at Ask Mom.
Here you will find all sorts of parenting for help during these tricky times. Be sure to connect with Sue to get all the parenting help you need during COVID-19 and beyond.