Thanks to the many advancements in technology, kids today have several ways to learn or entertain themselves. This may include television, the Internet, or perhaps their Gameboy or Xbox. Sometimes kids have access to all three types of technology in the same day. In addition, many teens today have access to some type of cell phone which involves even more screen time.
While it has been shown that some television shows and interactive video games, as well as the internet, can help children learn at all ages, this involves a large amount of time kids spend looking at lit screens.
The question for parents becomes one of is there such a thing as too much screen time?
According the American Institute of Pediatrics (AAIP) children under the age of two should have no screen time. For children two and older the AAIP recommends only one to two hours of television viewing a day. There are several adverse effects that children may face if they spend too much time in front of a screen each day. These include, but are not limited to:
There are many adverse health issues that are caused by spending too much time if front of a screen. Although a lot of these issues are related to your eyes there are other detrimental health consequences not having to do with your eyes.
Eye strain is a result of the glare your eye receives. This may be in the form of a direct or indirect glare. Direct glare is when light hits your eye directly and indirect is when it bounces off a surface such as a television or a computer screen.
The strain that results from the computer screen is caused by the screen being too light or dark and the eyes straining to make out what is on it. Eye strain may also result from having the screen at a bad angle, once again resulting in the eyes straining to see what is on it.
Dry eye syndrome is when you overuse your eyes and the tear ducts become inflamed resulting in lack of tears. Although this does not cause any permanent eye damage it can cause extreme discomfort for a child making it difficult for them to do homework or see the chalk board at school.
Obesity has become an increasing problem among kids in the U.S. and other western nations throughout the world. According to the CDC, obesity in children has doubled in the last thirty years. For adolescents the increase is even greater, with their rate of obesity quadrupling. Although there are many reasons for this, sitting in front of the television or computer for hours on end has most certainly contributed to this increase.
The more time spent sitting looking at a screen, the less time out playing and getting the much needed exercise children need to be healthy.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT’s), or a blood clot, is a phenomenon that most people are somewhat aware of due to the fact that almost 200,000 people die a year from a blood clot that broke loose and traveled to a person’s lung. Once a blood clot is in your lung (pulmonary embolism) it can block the flow of blood and cause instant death. Although it was once thought that blood clots were only a condition adults experienced it has been found that more and more teenagers and some younger children are prone to these if they sit for excessive periods of time.
Parents should take note here that excessive sitting in front of a screen all day is not healthy for them either. If you were to get a blood clot this could seriously affect your ability to take care of your kids.
Sitting in front of the television or some computer can cause what many parents are all too familiar with, the state of zoning out. According to the Urban Dictionary those people that are zoned out are often oblivious to what is going on around them, absentminded or just plain forgetful. Although many kids who are zoned out are actually smart, many get the reputation of being dumb. Spending all this time in front of the TV or computer games also results in the child spending less time with friends. This in turn results in the child not developing friends or the social skills every person needs to succeed in life.
There has been more and more evidence showing that kids who spend a great deal of time watching television are not only more aggressive but they are also more likely to take part in risky sexual activity.
It is only common sense that those kids spending too much time in front of video game or watching television have less time to do homework or general reading. As you may expect this results in these kids doing worse in school than those kids who are limited to the number of hours spent online, playing video games, or watching television.
It may be difficult to set limits on TV watching and computer time but as a parent it is a must. Although I hesitate to give you a specific amount of time that children spend in front of a television or other screens, it is important that you set a limit that works for your family. A must however is that you insist that there be no television or game playing until their homework is completed.
Some parents even demand that a child sit and read a book for a half hour before they are allowed to go to their “screening entertainment.” Become aware of the problems associated with excessive screen time and then talk with each other and then the kids. If you deal with this situation head on and from the beginning, it will be much easier.