New Study: Too Much Screen Time Is Hurting Children’s Brains

“Screen time” is the amount of time a person spends staring at the digital displays of computers, tablets, and smartphones. Nowadays, children spend too much time in front of the TV, computer, or phone screens, and this facts worries experts, who warn that it might endanger their mental development.

Vision Council warned that about 72 percent of American parents report their children routinely engage in more than two hours of screen time daily, and what’s more, it is very likely most children spend significantly more time staring at screens than their parents think.

A study published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health found that the average American child spends 3.6 hours a day watching TV, using a computer, or looking at the phone or tablet.

This habit led to poor results at school and reduced thinking, language and memory skills. On the other hand, research showed that the ones that slept for 11 hours each night and spent less than two hours of screen time and an hour of physical activity daily have an optimal mental development.

Yet, just 5% of children in the study met all three guidelines, and 30% met none of them. Moreover, researchers showed that the best ways to optimize cognition are to get enough sleep or limit screen time.

According to Jeremy Walsh, the study’s lead author who works with the CHEO Research Institute in Ottawa, Canada:

“Evidence suggests that good sleep and physical activity are associated with improved academic performance, while physical activity is also linked to better reaction time, attention, memory, and inhibition.”

To remedy the situation, health experts say that parents should stimulate their children to be more productive and spend less time in front of screens.

According to The American Academy of Pediatrics,  a child less than 18 months old should not spend a single minute in front of screens, and children aged 2-5 years old should watch “high-quality” programs for only an hour daily.

The increase in cell phone use from a young age posed serious health concerns, as children spend more than 6 hours daily using screens for entertainment. Children aged 8-12 have been found to spend four and a half hours looking at screens every day.

Researchers have also found that teens who spend most of their time using social media and the internet had”lower psychological well-being.”

Therefore, the first step parents can make is to limit the time their children use these gadgets during the day and also restrict the use of electronic screens in the bedroom.