Screen Time for Children

October 24, 2018

Screen Time for Kids


How much time would you say your children spend in front of the TV or electronic device per day?  

A study done by shows children under the age of 2 spend about 42 minutes daily, children 2 to 4 about 2 hours + 40 minutes, and kids 5 to 8 nearly 3 hours each DAY on electronics. That's an increase of 35% since 2011 when screen time was around 4%. Technology definitely has its advantages and disadvantages but the effects on the brain's of children are crazy!!  

The brain is a very complex component of our body and is not fully functional and developed at birth. The brain is designed to grow and mature over the years. This development happens daily through interactions with the world around us. BUT, due to the increase in electronic devices our children no longer get the worldly skills that are taught by experiences. A computer screen cannot teach our children about the five senses (seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling) and without these senses we are not learning to the best of our brains' abilities.

Another study showed that in 1999 children and adolescents were spending more than 3 hours a day on average viewing televisions. Today, more than 7 hours per day are spent watching television or looking at an electronic device. This increase in technology has impacted our children's thinking and learning. Did you know that we use more brain power when we sleep than when watching tv or a movie? Our brains are meant to learn through direct interaction with the world and therefore, it's up to parents to make sure our child's electronic time is monitored. A growing brain that is fed more than two hours of screen time a day cannot develop correctly.

These could be the results when excess screen time is a part of a child's life:

  • a decreased attention span 

  • underdeveloped or delayed language abilities 

  • critical thinking abilities or creativity skills are delayed

  • decreased intrinsic motivation for learning

Technology can also have an impact on their feelings and behavior which may cause you to see an increase in hyperactivity, aggression, fear, insensitivity, and appetite for violence.  It also impacts their health and well-being. Childhood obesity has increased drastically due to children sitting for long periods of time.  

Here are a few activities you can do with your children to help bridge the gap with screen time!

Activity #1: TV/Movie Book discussions

Parents can keep track of the dates when a TV or movie version of a book is scheduled to air and encourage their kids to read the book first. Great discussions can result from comparing the original book to the TV/movie version.

Activity #2: Use the TV to expand your children's interests
Parents can link TV programs with their child’s interests, activities, and hobbies. A child interested in crafts can watch craft programs for encouragement and ideas; after viewing a wildlife show, take the kids to the zoo and have them recall what they learned about the animals from the TV program. How does the real life experience differ from the show they watched?

Activity #3: Different Viewpoints
This activity incorporates the whole family. The family watches one program together. The TV is then turned off and each person writes a few sentences explaining their opinions about the show. Discuss and compare everyone’s thoughts, and point out to your child how different people will like or dislike the same program. Why are all perspectives valid? Who had the most persuasive view about the show and why?

Activity #4: The Guessing Game
This activity starts by turning the volume off but leaving the TV picture on. See if your child can guess what is happening. To expand this into a family game, have everyone pick a TV character and add his/her version of that character’s words.

Activity #5: Ask: "What will happen next?"
This is a simple yet effective activity. Mute the commercials while your family watches a TV show together and ask each child and adult what he/she thinks will happen next. There are no right or wrong answers! This gives everyone a chance to engage in creative interplay and then to test his/her “hypothesis” when the show resumes. Children may learn just how predictable and mundane a lot of programs are and soon improve on the scripts by adding their own creative ideas.

Activity #6: Talk about Real Life Consequences 
Start a discussion about what would happen if screen violence were actually occurring in real life, what might the consequences to the perpetrator and the victim of the violence be. Compare what’s on the screen to the consequences of what happens when someone hurts another person in the real world.

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