How much is too much screen time for kids?

Have you seen this Infographic on the Dayton Children’s website about screen time and lean time?

For more information, visit MakingHealthEasier.org/GetMoving

After I viewed this, I got to thinking about the screen time in my own home. What I know professionally shapes what I do at home; but so does what I see and hear other people doing and what my kids ask for.

I always remember the following two recommendations:

1.)    The American Academy Pediatrics’ (AAP) recommends that a child under age 2 years should not have screen time and children older than 2 years should not have more than 1-2 hours of screen time a day.

2.)    The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommendation that kids are to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

I also know that an increase in screen time is linked to obesity, irregular sleep, behavioral problems, weaker academic performance, violence and less active play.  I have witnessed some of these effects with some of my patients.  Per the Infographic, I was reminded:

  • Children ages 8-14 years spend 6 hours per day in front of the screen, 4 of those hours in front of the TV
  • Youths ages 11-14 years spend 9 hours per day in front of the screen, 5 of those hours in front of the TV
  • Youths ages 15-18 years spend 7.5 hours per day in front of the screen, 41/2 of those hours in front of the TV

Aren’t these statistics alarming??  Screen time…what does this really include?  The obvious: TV watching (gosh, I do love our DVR!). Others: Itouch and Ipad, electronics for TV, computers and hand held games. In our house, Patrick and Matthew enjoy the Itouch and Ipad with educational (some) and entertaining games. Then, there is the Wii and DS (Wii made it into our home just in 2010 and DS in 2011) and not all the games make them active.  Edward (will be 3 come September) actually knows how to swipe, play some Itouch/pad games and tries to play the DS (cause and effect!). I know the computer will be even more utilized in the years to come.

Why so connected at the ages of 8 years, 5 years and almost 3 years?

Our society pushes us to be this way…do you remember when phone machines came out?  I still remember Jerry Seinfeld’s comedy about the appeal of answering machines!

Email (a favorite movie I just caught again on TV: You’ve Got Mail), cell phones (I remember my first larger one in 1996) and then, texting!  My husband was so surprised the first time I texted him (he texted back, “What did you do with my wife?”).  Now, Facebook (I just joined).

There are pro’s and con’s to leading a connected life…but that  is not what I want to blog about today.  I do wonder what are we doing to our kids and ourselves?  Based on what we know, should we ask ourselves about what happened to playing with our friends outside? Kickball, baseball, hide and seek,  and never thinking about turning on the TV?

Here are some things we try at home to get the boys away from screen time:   playing sports outside, dancing, jump rope, riding bikes, , running around the block, and yard work.  We might even find the right dog to help us get out and play.  My challenge to you: Log how often your kids are on the move and how often they are connected.  I think we need to do this in our home, too.  Awareness can lead to Prevention!

Click here to download a screen time log!

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We have created this blog as a way to communicate key childrens' health and safety issues to parents and other child advocates. It is managed by Dayton Children's department of marketing communications. Comments can be sent to rodneyg@childrensdayton.org.

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