Do you know the hidden dangers that come with excessive screen time for kids? From poor sleep to trouble in school and unhealthy habits, too much screen time may be impacting your child's emotional and physical health.
The average 8- to 18-year-old child looks at a screen almost 7.5 hours every day.* That’s equal to 114 days a year, and 68 of those days are spent only watching television. This is lost time he isn’t spending being active, reading, sleeping, learning a new hobby or spending face-to-face time with friends and family. Limiting screen time can help him find time for those healthy activities he enjoys.
*Kaiser Family Foundation 2010 study: Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds
Excessive screen time is linked to irregular sleeping patterns and disturbances in children. Lack of sleep can lead to mood swings, behavior problems and trouble in school. Try turning off all screens at least an hour before bedtime to help children wind down and prepare their bodies for a good night's sleep.
Kids who watch more than three hours of TV in a day are at high risk of poor homework completion, lower grades and a negative attitude toward school. Two-plus hours of screen time for kids increases the risk of hyperactivity as well as problems with emotions and behavior. Try to limit screen time to one hour a day. Find fun alternatives to replace screen time for kids, like bike riding or family time.
Too much screen time means not enough time in their busy day to be active and build strength, endurance and fitness. Commercials featuring sugary and high-fat foods and drinks encourage kids to choose unhealthy snacks. Children who spend less time on screens are more active and have healthier eating habits.
Too much screen time is linked to a variety of unhealthy habits that contribute to unhealthy weight gain, not enough activity, poor food choices and not enough sleep. Eating while distracted by a screen makes it difficult to pay attention to hunger and fullness cues, leading to overeating.
Try these ideas for disconnecting:
- Bike, rollerblade, walk, have a treasure hunt, build and bury a time capsule.
- Hit tennis balls, shoot hoops, play hide and seek or tag.
- Play in the sprinklers, have a water balloon fight, battle it out with water guns, go for a swim.
- Dance yourselves silly.