These Doctors Say There’s Little Evidence That Too Much Screen Time Is Bad for Kids

Maybe you don’t have to keep your kids unplugged

By: Amanda Mushro


education, elementary school, learning, technology and people concept - close up of school kids with tablet pc computers having fun and playing on break in classroom

Photo by: dolgachov


I’ve often wondered how my mom parented two children without the ease and convenience of handing over her phone so we could watch one of our favorite shows or letting us get lost in a few kid-friendly apps on a tablet. But having access to electronics that can quickly entertain our kids and give us a few minutes to take a breath comes with consequences if we allow our children to spend too much time plugged in. Or does it?

According to the guidelines released by British pediatricians at the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) in the UK, there is little evidence that screen time is harmful to a child's health. They added that it is impossible to recommend age-appropriate time limits for children. However, the pediatricians do recommend avoiding all screens an hour before bedtime so children can fall asleep easier.

Now, is your mom guilt being lifted away? Mind sure is!

So should we just let our kids turn into couch potatoes as they zone out on their electronics? Of course not. What these doctors do recommend is families placing value on and making time for positive activities like exercise, socializing with others, and good sleep. They would like to see families build screen time around family activities rather than the other way around.

“When it comes to screen time I think it is important to encourage parents to do what is right by their family,” says Dr. Max Davie, Officer for Health Promotion for the RCPCH. “We suggest that age-appropriate boundaries are established, negotiated by parent and child so that everyone in the family understands. When these boundaries are not respected, consequences need to be put in place.”

He also adds that the same rules apply to parents, too. “It is also important that adults in the family reflect on their own level of screen time in order to have a positive influence on younger members,” says Dr. Davie.

While previous studies have linked excessive screen time to stress, anxiety, obesity, heart disease and failing grades in school, this report says there is no direct causation between screen time and these ailments. They suggest screen time may be a contributing factor but not necessarily the cause.

So where does this leave parents? Set limits that work for you and your family. It’s also important to find ways to stick to those limits. If you have a day or two where your kids spend way too much time on their electronics? Don’t feel bad, just readjust tomorrow.

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