Digital Toxicity
​Digital Toxicity

Are Kids Overdosing on Screen Time?

smart phoneScreen time is influencing our culture and creating health issues across the United States. According to the department of Health and Human Services, it is estimated that the average American child aged three to 11 watches up to seven hours of digital content a day. Further, children three years of age and younger are using tablets and other electronic devices much more than ever before.


One of the most important times in a child’s life is the development stage between one month and three years. It is recommended that use of electronic devices be limited to when the child might truly be in need of some “down time”.  Excluding or limiting screen time offers the best chance for children’s growing brains to reach the greatest potential. 


Issues emerging with screen time and older children include the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity.  Due to the use of electronic devices, many kids are spending free time watching streaming movies or series on Netflix and HULU or playing video games. According to Harvard School of Public Health, a child with a TV in their bedroom is more likely to gain excess weight, compared to a child with no television in their bedroom. One way to limit screen time is to encourage children and teens to join clubs, sports teams, and other afterschool activities where they use their body and mind in a healthier way.


Adults and Screen Time

Many adults are feeling the impact of being “plugged in” to technology 24 / 7. Smartphones, tablets, computers have made it easy to stay in contact with work, family and other groups. It has become difficult to find opportunities to disconnect from technology, which can result in stress, anxiety and depression.    


Screen time can also lead to poor sleep.  It is important to be able to “shut off” the brain to allow sleep.  The UV blue light emitted from electronics causes a disruption in a person’s biological clock. Limiting digital content before bed promotes better quality sleep.  ​

Tips for Limiting Screen Time for Kids

  • Don’t provide tablets (iPads) or smartphones to your kids until tween or teenage years.
  • Don’t allow a television in their bedroom.
  • Set a reasonable amount of screen time each day based on your child’s age.

Easy Ways to Encourage Less Screen Time and More Family Time

  • Set aside specific “no screen” family time each week.
  • Use device timers and lock modes to limit use of screen time.Consider starting with a limit of one to three hours, two to three days each week.
  • Have one night a week to play yard games, or board games.

Hints for “Disconnecting”

  • Have a special basket where phones or tablets are during “Non-screen hours”.
  • Set a good example and don’t over use technology in front of your children.Spend uninterrupted time with you kids while your own phone is put away.
  • Have a limit on data usage per month that will turn off data, teaching time management and responsibility.

Sources:

Margalit, L. (2016, April 17). What Screen Time Can Really Do to Kids' Brains. Retrieved April 19, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/behind-online-behavior/201604/what-screen-time-can-really-do-kids-brains

Publications, H. H. (n.d.). Blue light has a dark side. Retrieved April 19, 2017, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side

Television Watching and “Sit Time”. (2016, April 13). Retrieved April 19, 2017, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/television-and-sedentary-behavior-and-obesity/