Is screen time damaging to children?

Is screen time damaging to children?
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There is still fairly little known about the effects of regularly staring at screens in children. Now new research into the dangers of screen time has revealed that spending excessive periods of time using screens such as iPads and mobile phones at a young age can be be seriously damaging to toddlers. 

The study, which tracked almost 2,500 two-year-olds in Canada and the USA, found that at the age of two, children were spending around 17 hours per week staring at screens. Screen time included watching the TV, playing computer games, using a phone or iPad or any screen device. By the age of three, this increased to 25 hours. When children started school at five-years-old, this figure dropped to 11 hours per week. 

The research found that higher levels of screen time were associated with delays in development but it’s not clear whether or not this is directly to blame. Scientists however that think that the more time children spend on screens the more likely they are to miss out on important opportunities to master other life skills such as socialising and physical activity skills. 

How much time should young people spend on screens?

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According to the American Association of Pediatrics, the following rules are advised when it comes to screen time. 

  • younger than 18 months: avoid any screen time. 

  • 18 - 24 months: guided screen time with parents to help them understand digital media. 

  • two - five years: one hour per day of quality screen time spent with parents guidance. 

  • 6+ place consistent limits that you see appropriate and make sure it doesn’t interfere with their sleep and physical activity. 

They also advise to keep bedrooms media free for children and keep dinner time media free.