Up to this point I have focused on the positive-- and I do try to avoid "don't do" suggestions because as parents we get so many. But, this post provides a caution because there is so much research now that points to the negative consequences of too much T.V., video and movie time. The American Academy of Pediatrics has been publishing research for several years on the effects of television and other forms of "screen" exposure on psychological welfare, attention skills and school success. Generally the Academy recommends no screen time (including computers, movies, TV and video games) in children younger than 2 years of age and after two years of age the recommendation is to limit screen time to two hours a day. They also recommend that parents supervise screen exposure and totally avoid violent or other inappropriate movies, television shows and video games.
There are many reasons to limit screen time. First, children who watch a great deal of TV or get lost in video games are not getting adequate physical exercise and are more likely to be obese. Second, ADHD is more prevalent among children who watch more than three hours a day of television. Third, children who are in front of TV screens are not interacting with friends or families. Finally, children who experience more than two hours a day screen time are more likely to exhibit psychological problems. I have included a summary of one of the more recent studies on psychological outcomes below.
"Children's Screen Viewing Related to Psychological Difficulties Irrespective of Physical Activity and Sedentary Time," is a research article that was published in the November issue of Pediatrics the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Researchers in the UK assessed time spent on use of media for entertainment in 1,000 children ages 10 to 11 years. Their results indicated that television and computer viewing were associated with increased psychological difficulty scores, regardless of how physically active the children were.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has a Parent Corner website that is a wonderful resource for parents of infants all the way through adolescents - I have included the link to a video explaining the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations in the links section below.
Step 4 – Limit television and other forms of screen time to two hours a day for children older than two years of age