Kids And Screen Time: What Does The Research Say?


As parents, most of us rely on the television from time to time. After all, it’s a babysitter that doesn’t charge or raid our pantries. And kids are more than happy to abide: from a stroll down Sesame Street to the latest Disney movie, TV is certainly entertaining for little eyes.

Of course, screen time isn’t limited to television – there’s also iPads and computers, video games and smartphones. Technology is there. It’s convenient. But is it a good thing?

Let’s look at what the science says:

Too much screen time can be addictive:

“Internet Use Disorder” was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders back in May of 2013. It was added after research proved that regular screen time had the potential to not only disrupt daily life, but also change brain chemistry (setting children up for more serious addictions in adulthood).

Too much screen time can compound the obesity epidemic:

Childhood is an era of skinned knees and climbed trees – it’s a time to move and grove. But replacing games of tag with games on the iPad is, in part, increasing rates of childhood obesity. Per the World Health Organization, in 2015, the number of overweight children under the age of five was estimated to be 42 million. Overweight children become overweight adults, and that sets the stage for all sorts of health issues.

Too much screen time can interfere with learning:

Over-exposure to any type of screen can interfere with the ability to learn. According to the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, in 0-2 year olds, too much screen time has the ability to impact cognition during a time when brain development is especially important. Not only this, screens impair movement which – as mentioned above – not only leads to obesity but also weakens the ability to learn. High-speed media may also interfere with attention, concentration, and memory.

Too much screen time can harm social skills:

There’s no doubt that technology has connected us – we’re able to locate long lost friends from middle school and Skype with people half a world away. But too much of a good thing can also leave us disconnected. A study conducted by the University of California found this to be especially true in children. This study revealed that sixth-graders who went five days with no exposure to technology were much better at reading human emotions than children with exposure to phones, televisions, tablets, and computers.

So, does this mean you should gather every screen in your house and toss it into the front yard? Not at all. Many of the shows and games available for children aren’t only entertaining, but educational too. Still, screen time does need to be controlled. As the saying goes, everything in moderation……even Moana.