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Kids and Screen Time, How Much Is Too Much?

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Kids and Screen Time, How Much Is Too Much?

A study published in the The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that the average time that a child spends watching TV, using a computer or mobile device each day increased from 53 minutes at 12 months of age to more than 150 minutes by age 3.
The finds suggests that efforts to reduce screen time may have a better chance of success if started early.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under 18 months of age. After 18 months of age screen time should be introduced slowly and limited to an hour a day for children from 2 to 5 years of age. Research has found that 87% of the children had screen time exceeding these recommendations. However, by age 7 and 8, screen time fell to under 1.5 hours per day – a decrease researchers attribute to children starting school. Children of first time mothers and children in home-based care were twice as likely to  have high screen time.

Not surprisingly as children enter their pre-teen and teen years, screen time continues to rise, with tweens logging nealy five hours of screen time per day and teens spending an average of six hours and 40 minutes in front of a screen. According to Common Sense Media (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/technology-addiction-concern-controversy-and-finding-balance-infographic), 59 percent say their kids are “addicted” to their screens, while 66 percent say their kids spend too much time on screens.

Managing Kids Screen Time

First, it's important for parents to take into account their own screen usage. It's easier to get kids to follow the rules by setting a good example. Also, understanding the side effects to too much screen time can also help find good alternatives. For example, to avoid poor sleep habits, don't allow children to have screens in the bedroom, or enforce a strict screens off time. Inactivity and obesity are also problems related to too much screen time. Involving kids in extracurricular activities like team sports can provide a healthy balance.

As screens continue to dominate our work and home lives, the line between healthy screen usage and over usage will only become more blurred. By starting kids on the right path and setting a good example we help them become healthier and happier media consumers.

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