The current generation is growing up with smart devices and an ever-increasing amount of technology. Children and teenagers today are spending more time than ever looking at their screens. This trend has parents around the world worried about their child’s health.
Several studies have associated more screen time with a variety of health problems, including increased social anxiety, sleeping disorders, and neck or back pain.
Before we move any further, how much is too much screen time? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen time for children and teenagers to two hours.
As technology becomes ever-more prevalent in society, it’s important to help your child understand the impact that too much screen time can have on them. Especially with online classes being more popular and, in some cases, a necessity work with your child to help limit non-necessary screen time.
How Too Much Screen Time Affects a Child’s Development
Children learn by exploring their environment and observing people around them. Too much screen time can affect a child’s ability to interact with their environment by allowing them to ignore important developmental stimuli.
When children use screens, they may not pay attention to the people or what’s happening on around them. In young children, this can affect their ability to learn new things and language development.
A screen is not a substitute for a human nor social interaction. While a screen may seem like a great distraction to, children less than 2 learn by interacting with adults who play and talk with them. On a similar note, as children grow and become teenagers socialization outside of a screen helps them notice and pick up on social queues, improve communication, and limit the potential for social anxiety.
Growing children and teens need ample sleep. On average, it’s recommended that they get about 8-9 hours of sleep each night. Too much screen time before bed can affect a child’s circadian rhythm, causing sleep-related problems including insomnia or difficulty falling asleep.
How Too Much Screen Time Can Affect a Child’s Brain?
In 2015, the National Institute of Health launched a study that involved tracking the development of 11,000 children aged 9 and 10 to examine the long-term effects of screen time on kids’ brains. The initial results of the ongoing study are:
- MRI scans reveal significant differences in the brains of children who reported using digital devices such as smartphones and tablets and playing video games more than seven hours a day
- Children who reported getting more than two hours of screen time are more likely to have performed poorly on language and thinking tests
Tips to Limit Screen Time for Your Child
- Encourage your child to get outside more often
- Create phone-free zones in your home
- Explain your child why it’s important to limit screen time
- Make family time a priority
- Ask them to ‘be present’ by putting down their devices
Need help developing a strategy to manage screen time for your child? Look no further than The OCD & Anxiety Center. We specialize in social anxiety counseling in Oak Brook. We are committed to promoting positive behavior in children and teens. To make an appointment with one of our counselors, call (630) 522-3124.
Dr. Maha Zayed is a psychologist and owner of The OCD & Anxiety Center. The Center is located in two suburbs outside of Chicago. She has devoted her career to specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy for anxiety, OCD, and anxiety-related disorders. She is comfortable working with children and adults and is able to provide treatment both in the office and outside of the office, wherever anxiety happens.