Excessive screen time endangers children’s health and well-being

Jan. 23, 2024

By Chiara Cardone
Staff Writer

We’ve all witnessed a child who is glued to their phone, and many of us have reflected on how unfortunate that is.

Excessive screen time can be more harmful than one may realize. According to the National Library of Medicine, screen time can negatively impact child development

Pediatricians discourage the consumption of media for children younger than two years old. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests a limit of one hour of screen time per day for children between the ages of two and 12 and about two hours for teens and adults.

Excessive exposure to screens at a young age can lead to limited physical activity. Children who have easier and more frequent access to TV screens have a higher likelihood of developing obesity, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Similar sedentary activities that involve screens. like playing video games, contribute to or intensify the risk of obesity. Therefore, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia advises parents should make their child’s bedroom “TV-free” and turn off screens during meals.

Furthermore, children’s use of social media can cause poorly developed social skills, difficulty in making human connections and even depression.

Immoderate consumption of media exposes teens to non-educational content and causes them to rely excessively on online validation.

According to Jefferson Health, teens are much more susceptible than adults when it comes to developing an addiction to social media. Immoderate consumption of media exposes teens to non-educational content and causes them to rely excessively on online validation. Both of these can cause or worsen mental health issues including anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, body dysmorphia and depression.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents establish screen-free times and areas. This is to prevent children from developing an emotional attachment to a device and avoid the disruption of regular activities because of device use. Another piece of advice for parents is to limit activities involving screens and have their child engage in physical activity instead.

As an aid for parents, both Apple and Android offer screen time-limiting features in the smartphone’s settings. On Apple devices, parents can set time limits for both app categories and specific apps. They can then lock the feature with a code only they can access. There is a similar setting on Android devices, where one can set a timer for each app.

Order of St. Francis Healthcare suggests the following limits based on different age groups: none for children under the age of two, one hour for toddlers and young children ages 2-5 and about two hours for children and teens ages 5-17. Parents can make exceptions to these screen-time limits for schoolwork.

Healthy and age-appropriate device use begins with an effort from parents to impose reasonable restrictions. Therefore, parents should limit their children’s screen time and encourage positive activities like socializing face-to-face, exercising and developing hobbies that do not require screens.

bookmark icon