Research indicates that children spend more time on screens than in any other activity, logging an average of seven hours a day across all age groups. Many parents find themselves asking how much screen time is too much and whether they should be concerned about the hours their kids spend consuming digital media. Though supervision and rules surrounding screens are important, technology has a valuable place in our modern lives.
At Crème de la Crème, we educate kids on topics such as coding and technology so they can make the best possible use of the screens in their lives. Find the location nearest you, and schedule a tour to learn more.
Hazards of Screen Time for Kids
As screens become ever more prevalent in our daily lives, parents are naturally showing concern over the potential hazards of keeping kids plugged in. This is a valid worry, as excessive screen time is linked to poor grades, anxiety, aggression, difficulty sleeping, and a higher risk of obesity. The hours spent on screens are hours taken away from other activities. The nature of those lost activities plays a big role in the potential overall impact of screen time.
Time spent on screens is often time stolen from social interactions, meaning that using screens too often might hinder social development and emotional comprehension. Depending on the content consumed, screen time may also desensitize children to violence and promote aggressive behaviors.
For young children, screen time may replace hours that would otherwise be spent learning to manipulate toys or use their imagination. Screen time is usually sedentary and may hinder the child’s ability to get enough active play into their day, leading to poor physical health and an increased risk of obesity.
Benefits of Screen Time for Kids
Though screen time presents some potential hazards, it’s not always as bad as it may seem. In fact, screen time is often beneficial, as seen in our excellent technology-focused programs at Crème de la Crème.
Thanks to programs such as Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime, screens can facilitate social interactions as much as they can limit them. The COVID-19 pandemic may have been even more disastrous had we not been able to see and socialize with loved ones virtually, despite social distancing mandates. This type of screen time makes it possible for grandparents located on the other side of the country to still read children a bedtime story or marvel at their art projects, fostering beneficial connections for children.
Children of a certain age can use screens for educational pursuits ranging from math games to online college courses. The nature of the material on the screens is of critical importance. Teenagers may benefit from watching an engineering tutorial on YouTube that helps them complete a science project, but they won’t get the same perks if they watch YouTube videos of other teens pulling dangerous pranks.
Screen time is nearly always best when it’s a group activity. Watching screens or playing games with your children provides opportunities for social interaction along with the benefits associated with the particular program or game. Watching with your child also helps mitigate some of the potential hazards of screens, as you can discuss any instances of violence or bad behavior with them.
What’s the Optimal Amount of Screen Time?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) used to provide detailed guidelines for screen time limitations but later found that there was insufficient evidence for such detailed recommendations. In 2016, The AAP updated its guidelines to recommend that caregivers carefully consider the quality of the child’s interactions with digital media rather than simply the quantity. The AAP found that children enjoy the best outcomes when families implement rules that focus on communication, content, and co-viewing regarding children’s use of screens.
If you’d like more detailed recommendations, you can use the AAP’s Family Media Plan tool to build a personalized plan for screen use. Our staff at Crème de la Crème can also help you navigate some of the complexities of setting screen time rules.
How To Manage Screen Time
However you choose to manage screen time, the most important thing is to have a plan. Consider what, when, where, how, and with whom your children are using screens. Focus on educational content, and take the time to check reviews from reliable sources, such as Common Sense Media. While many apps are truly educational, others only seem that way. Apps that deliver simplistic learning may not truly educate the child.
Don’t allow snacks or meals in front of a screen. One study found that every hour on social media increased the risk of a binge-eating disorder by 62% a year later, while every hour spent watching movies or television corresponded with a 39% increased risk. Another study showed that watching screens while eating increases the amount of food people consume by 30% to 60%. Over time, your children may build a strong association between eating and watching screens, reaching for a snack any time they’re watching videos. This can lead to problems with childhood obesity.
Keep screens out of the bedroom so you can more easily monitor your children’s activity. End screen time 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime so children have a chance to unwind away from the stimulating blue light of their devices. Balance screen use with other activities that force kids to step away from technology, such as sports, hiking, reading, board games, and time with friends.
Find the Right Support System for Managing Your Kids’ Screen Time
At Crème de la Crème, we offer a well-rounded educational program that includes both technology-based classes and time away from screens. In this way, we can help children optimize their tech skills while enjoying the benefits of hands-on learning in other areas, such as cooking and sports. Our educational programs begin with preschool to give your children a strong foundation early in their educational careers. Schedule a tour at your nearest Crème de la Crème location to learn more.