Should we join the growing trend to drastically limit or ban our kids’ screen time?

Let’s be honest, even the most idealistic parents rely on a ‘digital babysitter’ from time to time. However, in certain circles (particularly among Silicon Valley’s high-level tech executives), there’s a growing trend to limit and even ban kids’ screen time.

What do the people who make apps and social media platforms know about the effects of screen time that we don’t know?

They may have heard that various studies have linked too much screen time – whether it’s gaming, social media or watching TV – to sleep problems, anxiety, depression and concentration problems in kids.

In fact, a new study by San Diego State University psychologist Jean Twenge and University of Georgia psychology professor W. Keith Campbell has linked too much screen time to anxiety or depression in children as young as two years old.

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The danger of screen time before bed

How much screen time is too much?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, one hour of screen time per day for children aged two to five should be the limit.

However, the study by Twenge and Campbell found that, even after just an hour of screen time a day, children and teens may have reduced curiosity, self-control, emotional stability and a greater inability to finish tasks.

Their study is based on an analysis of a random sample of more than 40 300 surveys from the caregivers of children aged 2 to 17 in the National Survey of Children’s Health data from 2016.

A new study has linked too much screen time to anxiety or depression in children as young as two years old

How screen time affects pre-schoolers

Among pre-schoolers, high users of screens were found to be twice as likely to often lose their temper and 46 percent more likely to not be able to calm down when excited.

Screen time makes kids less interested in learning

About nine percent of kids aged 11-13 who spent an hour with screens daily were not curious or interested in learning new things, compared with 13,8 percent who spent four hours on screen and 22,6 percent who spent more than seven hours with screens.

How to protect children from screen time eye damage

Screen addicted teens more likely to be depressed

The study found that teenagers who spend more than seven hours a day on screens were twice as likely as those spending one hour to have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression – a significant finding.

Among teens aged 14-17, 42,2 percent of those who spent more than seven hours a day on screens did not finish tasks compared with 16,6 percent for those who spent one hour daily and 27,7 percent for those engaged for four hours of screen time per day.

Teens who spend more than seven hours a day on screens were twice as likely as those spending one hour to have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression

How do teens spend seven hours a day looking at a screen? 

According to Twenge, teens spend more time on their phones and on social media than younger children, who tend to watch TV or videos only. This explains a lot as previous research has indicated a strong link between spending time on social media and a low sense of wellbeing.

While it may be hard to avoid screen time altogether, it’s clear that for kids, less is more.

Sources and further reading: San Diego State University via www.sciencedaily.com and Business Insider

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.