What is the Limit of Screen Time for Kids?

Parents are urged to restrict their children’s media intake, yet research reveals that the kind of media matters. Screen time for kids are increasing day by day. Battles over screen time and electronics have become a dismal aspect of family life for many parents in the digital era, and determining how much is too much has become a changing target.

Every stage of childhood and adolescence is now accompanied by its own delightful new parenting challenges, whether it’s three-year-olds throwing tantrums when the iPad is taken away, seven-year-olds watching YouTube all night, nine-year-olds demanding their own phones, 11-year-olds nagging to play 18-rated video games that “all their friends” are playing, or 14-year-olds who are never off Instagram.

Until recently, parenting advice revolved on “screen time” limits, with a Goldilocks-style sweet spot of two or so hours of screen time for kids per day, beyond which media usage might be hazardous. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) still advises that children under the age of 6 watch no more than one hour of “high-quality programming,” but after that, parents should “set regular limitations on the time spent using media” and set aside screen-free time as a family. It’s unclear if this implies spending four hours on a Sunday playing video games is OK, or whether three 20-minute stints with the iPad are preferable to one hour-long session. Is it really that awful if my 18-month-old watches a few Twirlywoos episodes before dinner?

Screen time for kids

Every stage of childhood and adolescence is now accompanied by its own delightful new parenting challenges, whether it’s three-year-olds throwing tantrums when the iPad is taken away, seven-year-olds watching YouTube all night, nine-year-olds demanding their own phones, 11-year-olds nagging to play 18-rated video games that “all their friends” are playing, or 14-year-olds who are never off Instagram.

Until recently, parenting advice revolved on “screen time” limits, with a Goldilocks-style sweet spot of two or so hours of screen time for kids per day, beyond which media usage might be hazardous. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) still advises that children under the age of 6 watches no more than one hour of “high-quality programming,” but after that, parents should “set regular limitations on the time spent using media” and set aside screen-free time as a family. It’s unclear if this implies spending four hours on a Sunday playing video games is OK, or whether three 20-minute stints with the iPad are preferable than one hour-long session. Is it really that awful if my 18-month-old watches a few Twirlywoos episodes before dinner?

Many parents will be glad to learn that new study reveals that the kind of screen time, rather than the duration, is what matters. Whether it’s passive TV or social media surveillance, active video gameplay, WhatsApp socializing, or becoming creative with iMovie, there’s something for everyone.

Jocelyn Brewer, a psychologist who studies “digital nutrition,” compares media diets to what’s on our plates: instead of measuring calories (or screen time), consider what you’re eating.

“It’s not only about whether you eat any possible digital junk foods,” says Brewer, “but also about your connection with technology and how it affects your family life.” “We know that using screens to soothe or pacify children establishes some concerning patterns of relying on devices to calm or distract a child (or a teen, or an adult) from their experience of unpleasant or uncomfortable emotions – so we want to avoid using screens to placate tantrums, just as we don’t want to eat ‘treats’ to calm emotional storms.”

The most crucial factor for young children is if their parents and children are playing, watching, or browsing together.

Screen time for kids

The Oxford Internet Institute and Cardiff University found no link between restricting gadget usage and children’s happiness in a survey of 20,000 parents released late last year. “Our results imply that the larger family environment, how parents establish boundaries regarding digital screen time, and whether they’re actively involved in exploring the digital world together are more significant than the raw screen time,” research main author Dr. Andrew Pryzbylski said.

Another research on children aged four to eleven published in December by the University of Michigan revealed that “how children use the gadgets, not how much time they spend on them, is the biggest predictor of emotional or social issues associated with screen addiction.”

Concern over screen time usage for kids, however, is justified if it leads to bad behavior, lack of interest in other activities, family or social life, retreat, or dishonesty, according to the authors. The internet and video games may be entertaining, sociable, and give youngsters a new creative outlet.

The internet and video games may be entertaining, sociable, and give youngsters a new creative outlet. Iain Masterton/Alamy/Iain Masterton/Alamy/Iain Masterton/Ala

screen time for kids

Although explicit screen time limitations are outdated, most research believes that there comes a point when excessive device usage has negative consequences, harming sleep, health, and mood. “Adolescents spending a limited amount of time on electronic communication were the happy,” according to a January research, however, its recommendation of one hour of daily screen usage for teens is ludicrous to anybody attempting to raise one.

When it comes to kids and technology, the conversation normally leans toward the bad, but this does not have to be the case. The internet and video games may be entertaining, sociable, and give youngsters a new creative outlet.

Early learning, exposure to new ideas and information, and improved possibilities for social engagement and support are among the evidence-based advantages recognized from the use of digital and social media, according to the AAP. The general opinion is that screen time is not detrimental in and of itself – and that suitable limits vary widely based on a child’s behavior and personality.

It’s pointless to be concerned about how much time your children spend in front of devices each day. Instead, parents should do everything possible to guarantee that everything their children watch, play, and read is of good quality, age-appropriate, and safe – and should participate whenever feasible.

“Balance is vital in the online and offline worlds, as well as in leisure and study,” adds Brewer, “but what that looks like for various kids at different ages and in different households is difficult to ‘prescribe.” “Research indicates that denying children access to the digital world has a detrimental influence on them – therefore the key is to achieve the correct balance with a holistic approach.”

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