Stop Staring at Those Screens

For most kids, being out of school means less structure and more downtime, which often leads to increased access to phones, tablets and television. Why does it matter? Studies show that excessive screen time can impact the health of both children and adults. So now that school’s in session, why not take this opportunity to provide some structure to your kids’ screen time habits?

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use under the age of 24 months. For 2-to-5- year olds, you should limit screen time to one hour per day. For kids ages 6 and over, parents can determine the restrictions for time spent using a screen.

Children ages 8 to 12 consume an average of 4.5 hours of screen media per day and tweens spend an average of 5 hours with all media including reading and listening to music. Is this too much? For these older children, an average day should include school, homework time, at least one hour of physical activity, social contact and sleep. This can be anywhere from eight to 12 hours, so a good rule of thumb is whatever time is left over can be screen time.

For older children, excessive screen time has been linked to hyperactivity, emotional and conduct problems, difficulties with peers and poor school performance. Other health problems include: sleep issues, obesity, vision issues, bad posture and much more.

If you think screen time is having a negative impact on your child or you simply want to reduce the amount of time spent in front of a screen consider the following:

  • Set some boundaries by creating weekly or daily screen time limits
  • Establish screen-free zones (for example, dinner time)
  • Prioritize unplugged playtime
  • Require your children to charge their devices in a family room at night
  • Lead by example – limit your own screen time (for your health too!)

Desi Valentine, MD
Baton Rouge General Physicians - Family/Sports Medicine

Phone: (225) 381-6620

Book with me!

July 3, 2018