should parents limit screen time for kids

Should Parents Limit Screen Time for Kids

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With the increased popularity of electronic devices, naturally arises the debate should parents should limit children's screen time. Traditional books are being overshadowed as the world rapidly enters a new technological era, with potential consequences not fully understood for children. Research indicates that children typically spend between 6 to 9 hours daily in front of screens.

While screens offer many benefits, they're also associated with behavioral changes and health issues. Doctors and scientists advocate for regulating screen time due to the uncontrollable consumption of content. Experts associate screen time with sleep deprivation, obesity, poor social skills, low self-esteem, aggressiveness, and fatigue.

We'll further explore whether parents should impose limits on screen time for children. assessing potential risks thoroughly.

Why Are Kids So Obsessed With Screens?

why are kids so obsessed with screens

Kids' obsession for screens is more than just following the trends and being popular among the peers. Using screens gives a quick burst of a feel-good chemical called dopamine. Screen time causes a high spike of dopamine in kid's brain, but the thing is that it doesn’t last long.

This burst of dopamine is easily attainable, similar to the pleasure hormone you can get from reading a book, winning a sports competition, or having a good workout. Unlike rewards from sports, screen time requires no effort and provides instant gratification.

However, this "quick dopamine" fades too rapidly, leading children's brains to crave more pleasure. The more time kids spend with screens, the more dopamine is released, driving them to seek it again. Screen addiction operates much like drug addiction.

Is Screen Time Damaging for Kids?

is screen time damaging for kids3

Screen time is damaging when it exceeds the recommended limit set by pediatricians. Excessive screen use leads to reduced cognitive abilities and speech delays. Over time, children who spend too much time on screens may struggle academically. They find it hard to concentrate on tasks and seek instant gratification. Their natural dopamine levels are too low to complete homework, projects, or reading. They quickly give up on tasks and rarely stick to one activity for long periods.

Problems in social-emotional development, such as obesity, sleep issues, depression, and anxiety, are also identified. Certain content on social media can encourage aggressive behavior. Children who are less addicted to screen time tend to develop long-term friendships, spend time outdoors, pursue hobbies, and excel academically.

does tv count as screen time

Does TV count as screen time?

TV is indeed a form of screen time, but you might believe it's less harmful than tablets or phones. Some households have TV on all day as background noise, thinking if kids aren't watching it actively, it is not damaging.

However, background TV reduces parents' interaction with children significantly. A recent study found that with the TV on, parents speak around 200 words or less in an hour, compared to over 1000 words if the TV is off. Nowadays, most TVs have YouTube, which uses similar content recommendation algorithms, autoplay, and lacks quality control. The only advantage of TV comparing to the tablets is that it stays in one place and easier controllable.

What are the Negative Effects of Screen Time?

what are the negative effects of screen time

Children spending a lot of time on screens may experience sleep deprivation, back pain, obesity, vision problems, migraines, apathy, depression and mood swings. The blue light emitted by screen devices can disrupt kids’ sleep patterns.

The main worry arises when screen activities replace physical ones. Often, kids are urged to use tech gadgets instead of playing outdoors. This causes weight problems, depression and social isolation.

Social media usage correlates with increased anxiety and depression in teenagers, who often unfavorably compare their appearance and lifestyle to peers. There were cases reported of committed suicides by teens being in depression who were exposed to uncontrolled social media usage. This also includes children who spend the majority of their free time gaming. The last face greater risks of mental health issues like anxiety, apathy, and substance use.

Furthermore, multitasking, like using social media, texting, and watching TV while doing homework, can diminish cognitive function and obstruct learning.

How do screens affect the brain?

how do screens affect the brain

Ultimately, the lasting consequences of screen addiction can be as serious as brain damage. Screen time is a sensory-deprived activity that does not stimulate development of social and physical skills, which are crucial for brain development in early age.

New research suggests that spending too much time on screens as a young child might change the brain's structure. Screen-addicted kids might have smaller or less developed areas of the brain that help with planning, controlling impulses, and understanding others' feelings.

how screens affect the brain2

Do screens cause OCD?

The latest study suggests that increased screen time is linked to the development of obsessive-compulsive disorder in young teenagers. Each extra hour spent gaming was associated with a 13% higher risk of developing OCD, while each additional hour spent watching videos was linked to an 11% higher risk of OCD.The time dedicated to playing video games is strongly linked to problematic usage, such as excessive thinking about playing, feeling the urge to play more, and struggling to cut back on playing despite attempts to do so.

Video game use may foster perfectionism, where users prioritize achieving perfect scores or beating previous records. These behaviors, coupled with rituals in gaming culture, may develop into compulsive tendencies.

Viewing videos, like on YouTube, may lead to compulsive watching of similar content, aided by algorithms or ads recommending related material.

Do screens weaken eyesight?

Common causes of excessive screen time often include vision problems. These can include eye strain, dry eyes, blurred vision, and nearsightedness. Eye strain refers to red, watery, and irritated eyes, along with tired or heavy eyelids. Additionally, kids may experience blurred vision and difficulties with focusing.

Recent research indicates that prolonged screen use, particularly among children whose eyes are still developing, significantly raises the risk of developing myopia, requiring corrective measures like glasses or contact lenses. Introducing screens too early may make your child to wear glasses even though your kids don't have parental history of nearsightedness.

In addition to this, nearly 1 of 10 kids develop condition of dry eye. The use of screen-based devices reduces the frequency of eye blinking. This can lead to tear evaporation and ultimately contribute to dry eye disease.

Does screen time lower IQ?

IQ is a assessment that measures range of cognitive abilities. The main difference between cognitive ability and general intelligence is that by possessing strong cognitive abilities, you can learn and develop new skills. On the other hand, your general intelligence stays at around the same level throughout most of your life based on what you learned as a child and an adolescent.

Excessive screen time was notbly linked to lower performance in rapid object naming on cognitive tests. The cognitive domain most impacted by screens is attention, particularly sustained attention, which involves staying focused on a single task for a prolonged period. The second most prominent difference was seen in "executive functioning," specifically in impulse control, which involves managing automatic responses.

Should parents limit screen time for kids? How to reduce kids screen time?

should parents limit screen time for kids how to reduce kids screen time1

Absolutely, yes. Limiting screen time is crucial for balanced child development

  • Under 18 months old. No screen time except for video chats.
  • For 2 to 5-year-olds. Maximum 1 hour of quality content daily. It is better if you join them and comment on content you watch.
  • 6 and above. Not more than 2 hours per day, following bedtime time routne and avoiding screens during meals.

Ensure that kids get enough sleep and physical activity, spend sufficient time outdoor and establish screen-free days.


Screens are part of modern life and they are cannot be eliminated. We need to learn how to live with them. By raising awareness on prominent effects of excessive screens on kids, we encourage parents to limit screen time right away.

It is common that screen addicted kids usually grow in screen-addicted households. By setting your own example of limited screen usage, you will promote healthy habits in your children.

Be present with your children, interact with them and build positive memories together away from screens.

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