Cell phones, mobile devices, computers, video games, internet and TV – children today are surrounded by media. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children spend an average seven hours a day watching on-screen entertainment, so they recommend limiting screen time for kids.
Here are just a few dangers that responsible parents need to consider:
Lack of exercise
Sitting stationary indoors for hours at a time replaces the time when children naturally should be playing outdoors, running around and getting fresh air and exercise. Too much screen time for kids inevitably means that they are losing out in other ways that may be better for their health and social behavior.
Studies have shown that excessive media can lead to problems with concentration and attention. It is particularly important for young children to learn and interact with real people, not from screens and TV. Their brains are developing rapidly, so the AAP recommends avoiding or limiting screen time for kids under the age of two. A recent U.S. study by the Journal of Pediatrics found that children aged 1-3 who watched TV developed significant attention problems by the time they were seven.
A study into media use and child sleep found that media can negatively affect a child's natural sleep particularly if it contains violent scenes or is viewed before bedtime. Specialists suggest monitoring content carefully and removing TVs from children’s' bedrooms.
Media viewing can encourage snacking on junk food in response to junk food ads. Eating while watching TV can also distract so that children are unaware of what they have eaten and want to eat again.
Every hour a child spends watching TV is associated with an additional 167 calories and raised blood pressure. Snacks and sweet drinks while they are entertained, coupled with a complete lack of physical exercise to burn off excess calories means that children quickly put on an unhealthy amount of weight. From the age they can walk, children should be active and mobile for at least three hours a day.
Trouble at school
A child's behavior and development are highly influenced by what they see and attention problems can be sourced back to watching TV during pre-school development. Pediatricians also report an increased risk of disengagement, poor skills and inability to express empathy, in children who have too much screen time for natural behavioral skills to develop.
Limiting screen time for kids
Suggested controls for avoiding too much screen time for kids includes providing books, board games and other amusements, establishing a "screen-free" zone in the home, turning TV off during dinner and limiting screen time for kids to no more than two hours a day.