Kids between the ages of 8 and 12 are getting a whopping four and a half hours of screen time each day. Between school, homework, and family time, that screen time amounts to the majority of your kid’s free time each day.
It’s great that kids have ways to entertain themselves and stay out of trouble, especially since you practically have to take out a loan to pay for the video game consoles they beg for every Christmas.
Unfortunately, too much TV, video game, and computer time is not good for them. In fact, there are many negative consequences associated with excessive screen time.
Just what kind of negative consequences? Read on to learn why you should put a cap on your child’s screen time.
1. It Limits Their Physical Activity
The more time your child spends in front of a screen, the less time they’re spending being active. When you were a child, you probably had to have your mom call you back in the house when it got dark outside. Playing outside with your friends was a blast.
Today’s children socialize by playing video games or hang out watching TV or movies. It’s no wonder that one in five children in the United States suffers from obesity. Instead of allowing your child extra screen time, encourage them to go outside and get active!
2. It’s Hard to Control the Content
You can add as many parental filters as you want, but there will always be content that slips through the cracks or content that the filter isn’t set up to catch. Whether they’re looking for inappropriate content or they stumble upon it, that content is out there.
As a result, you’ll have to spend a significant amount of time monitoring their online activity or setting up super sophisticated controls. Limiting the amount of time your child has online limits the risk of exposure.
3. It Disrupts Their Natural Sleep Cycle
It has been proven that screen time has an impact on everyone’s natural sleep cycle. The blue light that emanates from screens delays your body’s sleep rhythm. This light (and the content) stimulates your brain and makes you more apt to stay up late and lose precious hours of sleep.
Those lost hours could have a big impact. Children need around nine hours of sleep per night. Lost hours translate to poor attitude and poor performance in school.
For optimum sleep health, your child should refrain from watching TV, playing video games, or working on the computer at least an hour before they go to bed.
4. It Could Hurt Their Academic Performance
We know that excessive screen time impacts academic performance because of a loss of sleep, but it can impact it in other ways, too. Brain scans of people who spend too much time in front of a screen demonstrate that it actually causes atrophy in the processing and cognitive areas of the brain.
What does this mean? Children who spend too much time in front of a screen will have lower cognitive ability and will take longer to process new information.
Let’s not forget that screen addiction is a real thing. The more time a kid spends in front of a screen, the less time they’ll spend doing their homework. Instead of screen time, have your children practice their reading or math skills to sharpen their brain function and improve their grades.
5. It Has an Impact on Their Vision
How screen time impacts your child’s vision is definitely something you should learn more about.
There are big and small impacts on vision. At the very least, sitting in front of a screen means that your child will likely blink less and see an increase in dry eye and eye strain. It can also lead to myopia (nearsightedness).
Reducing the amount of time in front of a screen can help your child stay 20/20 and free of eye irritation.
6. It Can Exacerbate ADHD Symptoms
Screens are like candy for the ADHD brain. They don’t have to focus on any one thing for too long. After all, movies and TV shows go scene by scene, video games change activities from moment to moment, and there are plenty of things online that don’t demand a significant amount of attention.
The ADHD brain actually prefers these types of activities and will seek them out because they’re rewarding. By allowing your child to have unlimited hours in front of a screen, you’re not doing anything to help your child train their brain to focus on important things like homework.
7. Don’t Forget About Cyberbullying
Bullying isn’t a new thing. We all went through it growing up, whether we were bullied or the bully. But we could always escape the bullying by going home and disconnecting from your classmates.
In today’s age of social media and super-connectedness, we can never truly escape those who wish to make our children feel bad. Lots of screen time means more exposure to potential bullying, which has a severe impact on self-esteem. This time would be better spent on confidence boosting activities like sports or the arts.
8. Online Predators Are Still a Big Risk
Not to go all Chris Hansen here, but online predators are everywhere.
Predators are always creating new and crafty ways to get to your children online. Maybe they pose as another child on an academic message board, or pose as a classmate and add your kid as a friend on Facebook. Limiting screen time limits your child’s risk of being the target of an online predator.
Too Much TV and Computer Time? Not Anymore!
As you can tell, there are a lot of reasons to limit the amount of screen time your children get each day. Too much TV, computer, and video game time have many negative consequences that will impact your child for years to come. On top of that, there are limitless benefits to switching out screen time for playing outside or family time.
Want more helpful information about family life, specifically financial wellbeing? Check out the rest of our blog for tons of helpful articles about things like tackling debt and paying off student loans.