If most parents have one initial objective, it’s to encourage a childhood that isn’t reliant on screens — one where kids play outside, engage in imaginative crafts and hobbies, and read books for pleasure when they have free time. The screen time limitations are then relaxed when the youngsters beg their peers to watch TV and play on tablets, the reality kicks in, and there are chores and meals to prepare.
But there is validity to those first worries about screen time: A 2019 JAMA Pediatrics research found that screen usage alters how children’s brains are wired. According to the abstract, “Children who spend more time watching screens have reduced structural integrity of white matter tracts in areas of the brain that underpin language and other emerging literacy abilities.” These kids also scored poorly on tests of language and reading.
Another concern of parents regarding technology is that “screens take time and attention away from other healthy and growth-promoting activities, and what a kid does or sees on a screen may cause damage,” according to Richard Bromfield, Ph.D., author of Cyber-Smarts: Raising Children in a Digital Age. It’s enough to convince parents to permanently disconnect their routers.
However, there’s no need to start panicking just yet. After all, not all screen time is harmful, according to Diana Graber, creator of Cyberwise and author of Raising Humans in a Digital World. Some children utilize screen time to discover new interests or hobbies, create music or videos, or communicate with distant family members and friends.
However, if you believe your children are using screens excessively and want to find ways to cut back, the following tactics can help.
Another research that was published in JAMA Pediatrics claims that the more screen time young children have, the more they will have as they become older. According to the report, “Children’s average daily time spent using a computer, mobile device, or watching television climbed from 53 minutes at age 12 months to more than 150 minutes at 3 years.”
On the other hand, you have a larger chance of success if you can break the habit right away. According to lead author Edwina Yeung, Ph.D., “this data implies that interventions to minimize screen usage might have a greater likelihood of success if implemented early.” The recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics may be used as a guide: Children under the age of 18 months should not use screens at all (with the exception of video conferencing), children between the ages of 2 and 5 should watch one hour of high-quality programs per day, and children aged 6 and above should have regular time limitations.
Right now, denying your children access to a device is the simplest approach to restrict their screen time. It’s still rather simple to establish boundaries for younger children, put off giving them their own gadgets, and determine when they are just too young for certain applications and games, according to Graber.