Other studies since the 1980s have documented an association between screen time and obesity, and there are other potential concerns, too, says Dr. Carrie Wood a resident family medicine physician at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Holmestown Road.
“Increased screen time is associated with challenges in school, sleeping and eating and attention-deficit disorder,” she says. “In the adolescent population, a group that tends to heavily use social media, there’s also an increased risk of cyber bullying.”
It’s easier to establish a good habit from the start than to try to break bad habits later. Fortunately, there are guidelines that can help parents navigate the issue of how much screen time children should be allowed.
For children younger than 18 months old, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends discouraging any screen time other than video chatting.
Among children 18-24 months old, parents who want to allow some screen time are encouraged to choose high-quality programming and apps and use them with their children. They should avoid allowing children to use the media by themselves.
For children older than two years, the AAP suggests no more than one hour per day of high-quality programming through age 6. For older children, the association recommends parents place consistent limits on media use and make sure it does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors important to good health.
“We encourage parents to set limits,” Dr. Wood says. “A lot of time kids come home and go straight to the TV. A better alternative is to play outside or complete homework.”