Health and Mind: Effects of Screen Time and Media on Children – Winchester Sun
Health and Mind: The Effects of Screen Time and Media on Children
Posted at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 27, 2022
By Amy Williams
MRS. RD. LD. EDL
We’ve all heard about how screen time and computer games can be harmful to children, but we often wonder, “How harmful can that be or how much is that?” »? Most kids today are hooked up to television or video games long before they start attending school. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation:
• Two-thirds of infants and toddlers watch a screen an average of 2 hours a day.
• Children under the age of 6 watch on average about 2 hours of multimedia content on screen per day, mainly television and videos or DVDs.
• Children and teenagers aged 8 to 18 spend nearly 4 hours a day in front of a screen and nearly 2 additional hours on the computer (apart from school work) and playing video games.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under the age of 2 watch no screens, and those over the age of 2 watch no more than 1-2 hours per day of quality programming. The first 2 years of life are considered a critical period for brain development. Screen time with other electronic media can interfere with exploration, play, and interaction with parents and others, which encourages learning and healthy physical and social development. As children get older, too much screen time can interfere with activities such as physical activity, reading, homework, playing with friends, and spending time with family. Too much screen time can be detrimental, as children who consistently spend more than four hours a day staring at a screen are more likely to be overweight; children who see violent acts are more likely to display aggressive behavior, but also fear that the world is scary and that something bad will happen to them; and television characters often depict risky behaviors, such as smoking and drinking, and also reinforce gender and racial stereotypes.
There are some options for parents to limit media time with children, including:
• Keep screens out of bedrooms.
• Turn off screens during meals.
• Don’t let children watch media while they do their homework.
Consider television and screen time a privilege to be earned, not a right. Establish and enforce family electronic viewing rules, such as screens are only allowed after chores and homework are done.
Try a weekday ban. Schoolwork, sports activities and professional responsibilities make it difficult to find extra family time during the week. Record weekday shows or save TV time for the weekends and you’ll have more family time to spend on meals, games, physical activity and reading during the week.
Set a good example by limiting your own viewing of television and electronic devices.
Check TV listings and program reviews in advance for programs your family can watch together. Choose shows that promote interest and learning about hobbies and education (reading, science, etc.)
Preview programs before your kids watch them.
Establish a family TV schedule that you all agree on each week.
Watch television together. If you can’t sit for the entire program, watch at least the first few minutes to gauge tone and appropriateness, then check throughout the show.
Talk to children about what they see on electronics and share your own beliefs and values. If something you don’t approve of appears on the screen, you can turn it off and then take the opportunity to ask some stimulating questions.
The Clark County Health Department offers programs for the whole family, including Freedom from Smoking, WIC, HANDS, Family Planning, and Child Care/Vaccination. For more information on all of our services, please call 859/744-4482 or visit our website at www.clarkhealthdept.org. You can also “like” us on Facebook.