When it comes to kids and screen time, the consensus among experts is that too much can be detrimental. Research has found that excessive screen time can lead to a range of physical, mental, and social problems, including obesity, sleep disruption, anxiety, and depression (1). One study published in the journal Pediatrics found that among children aged two to four, those who spent more than two hours in front of screens were more likely to be overweight and have poorer problem-solving skills and attention spans than their peers who spent less time in front of screens (2). Another study, published in the journal Psychological Science, found that children who used screens for more than seven hours a day were significantly more likely to have mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and behavior problems (3).
So what can parents do to help their children reduce their screen time and engage in more healthy activities? First, set limits on the types of activities your children are allowed to do on screens, and the amount of time they can spend on them. For example, you may decide to limit video games to one hour a day or only allow certain types of activities. Second, get your kids involved in activities that don’t involve screens, such as sports, art, music, and outdoor play. Encourage them to take up hobbies and find activities they enjoy, such as reading, playing board games, or cooking. Finally, make sure your kids get enough sleep. Research has found that children who get insufficient sleep are more likely to be exposed to screens for longer periods of time (4).
At the same time, it’s important to remember that some days, kids are just going to spend more time in front of the screen, whether it be because they are sick or need a break or because you do! The key is trying to find a balance so that their everyday normal is more than just sitting in front of their electronics all day. Healthy, happy kids are ones who have well rounded interests, so take this as an opportunity to spend time with your kids helping them try new things until they find hobbies and activities they enjoy!