Today’s children spend a lot of time in front of screens, whether it’s the television or a mobile device. Unfortunately, this trend has its downsides — for example, studies suggest a correlation between extended screen time and anxiety. When screen time is unlimited, kids’ physical, emotional and mental development can be affected.
Children Under 12
Screens are often used as “babysitters” for younger children, and it’s hard to blame parents. After all, it’s simple to sit your kids in front of the TV when you need to get chores done. However, when children under 12 spend more than four hours a day watching screens, there’s a significant impact on their health.
Unhealthy Weight Gain
Kids who spend excessive time in front of a screen are more likely to be overweight. Obesity can lead to a variety of health problems:
- Sleep apnea
- Joint problems
- Higher risk of type 2 diabetes
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
Poor Sleep Quality
Younger kids who consume a great deal of TV or online media also have poorer sleep quality than their peers. Children may have difficulty falling asleep and sleep fewer hours overall. Poor sleep can result in cranky or sleepy kids as well as health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
Kids’ eyes are still developing, and staring at a screen all day can interfere. To retain their ability to see things that are far away, children need to look long distances regularly. There’s also research to suggest that exposure to sunlight is necessary for eye development, so when kids spend the majority of their time indoors, looking at screens, their eyesight may suffer.
Children Ages 12 to 17
It’s a stereotype that teens are always on their phones, but studies show there may be a kernel of truth to this. Research indicates that, on average, teenagers spend over 7 hours a day on mobile devices. Unfortunately, that amount of investment has real-world consequences.
Several studies have linked high social media use to low self-confidence. When teenagers see celebrities’ and peers’ carefully curated profiles, they may compare themselves to what they see. If teens feel they don’t measure up, they may experience anxiety and depression. While these conditions can be treated with medication and supplements — as these Brillia anxiety reviews can attest — it’s essential to monitor teens’ screen time in conjunction with other efforts.
Less-Developed Social Skills
While social media and other technology can help kids connect, there are downsides if they take the place of in-personal social interaction. Communication has a nonverbal component that doesn’t easily translate to posts and comments — if kids don’t practice in-person communication, they may struggle to connect with others. These difficulties can make kids feel isolated, anxious and depressed.
You may be wondering how you can keep your kids healthy without completely taking away mobile devices, TV and computers. The good news is, you can limit screen time with apps. The best apps to limit screen time allow you to take control of your kids’ online access by blocking specific apps, setting time limits and tracking usage. By balancing screen time with other activities, you can ensure your children have a healthy balance between the online and real worlds.