If you’re a parent, at some point you’ve probably wondered whether or not your child is spending too much time in front of a screen – especially over the summer months.
Too much screen time has been linked to a wide range of health issues – though often it’s not the screen itself that has the healthcare community worried…it’s what comes along with it.
First and foremost, too much screen time – whether it's watching television, playing video games, or surfing the web on a tablet or phone – is associated with sitting down and being inactive.
Evidence is increasingly mounting that inactivity and too much sitting can increase risk for a wide range of serious health conditions – including heart disease and cancer.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued new physical activity guidelines that underscored the dangers of too much sitting.
Second, hours upon hours of screen time is linked to snacking – often over-snacking – which can lead to weight gain.
And thirdly, the blue light from screens has been linked to difficulty falling asleep – and sleep is something kids need plenty of.
While there is no magic number for how much screen time a child should get, the American Heart Association recommends two hours a day or less for kids eight to eighteen.
For children under five, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an hour a day or less.
These recommendations may seem unrealistic. But given that many adults also are getting too much screen time, maybe it’s something families can work on together.