1. Kids are spending more and more time looking at screens. Should limits be set?
Yes. Screen time includes TVs, computers, smartphones, tablets, and video games. Kids need face to face social interaction to learn how to read social cues and emotions. Children also need to learn how to deal with boredom. Screen time can limit their ability to enhance creativity and problem-solving skills.
2. What time limits do you recommend?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends NO screen time for children under the age of 2, no more than one hour per day for children ages 2-5, and no more than two hours per day for children ages 5-18. Other recommendations include no TV or tablets in the bedroom, and no TV on while eating or doing homework.
3. Can overexposure to screens lead to severe negative health effects?
Research has shown that overexposure to screen time can lead to childhood obesity, poor sleeping patterns, and lack of social skills. It may increase your risk for attention and behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, and aggressive behavior. Screen time increases your child’s exposure to risky behaviors, such as smoking and drinking, as well as violent acts. The average American child will see 200,000 violent acts on TV by the age of 18, which can lead to desensitization of this type of behavior. Additionally, young children are unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality, leading to behavior and sleep disturbances caused by fear.
4. What about screens when out to eat?
Often, tablets or any type of electronic use at a dinner table means less communication and social interaction with one another. Dinnertime can be a great opportunity to discuss your day, communicate and interact with one another, and form a connection with each other. This is not an open gate to judge others that do use tablets at restaurants, as every family is different, and there are special populations that may need to use technology occasionally while out with others.
5. Are there positives to screen time?
Screen time can be very beneficial to children too, especially in a world where education is shifting to the use of more technology to enrich the learning experience. It can be an excellent source of education, and allows children to access and view what is going on in all parts of the world. As with most things, moderation is the key. Monitor what your child is watching at all times.
Top three things that parents can do to raise a happy, healthy child?
- Communicate with your child. Ask them to tell you about their day, who their friends are, and what their favorite and least favorite part of their day was. This gives you an opportunity to role model healthy communication and emotions and learn about your child’s likes, dislikes, or fears.
- Interact with your child. Go for a walk, play a board game, do some crafts together, bake, listen to music together. Spend quality time with your child and make a new memory. It does not have to involve spending money. This is what your child is going to remember, not what TV show you watched together.
- Be present, and be a role model. Set limits on your own electronics use as an adult to teach children that constant screen time is not acceptable. Give your child your full attention, and make eye contact with them when they’re talking to you. Put electronics in another room so you’re not distracted or tempted to use them.
Tiffany Pottkotter, MSN, MA, RN, PCC, PMHNP-BC,
has worked in the mental health field for 15 years
and is currently accepting patients ages 16 and up at
Promedica Physicians Behavioral Health,
1100 E. Main Cross, Suite 159, Findlay