Limiting screen time, including television, computers, and smart phones is important in order to provide opportunities for children to grow and develop in other areas. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting all screen time to less than 2 hours a day to encourage activities like exercise, reading and the development of interpersonal communication and social skills.
Pediatricians from Brown University School of Public Health used data from the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health to analyze the media use and homework habits of more than 64,000 children ages 6 to 17 years, as reported by their parent or guardian. The study “Digital Media Exposure in School-Aged Children Decreases the Frequency of Homework” by Stephanie Ruest, MD and Max Rubinstein, MD, analyzed children’s use of digital media to better understand how it relates to childhood well-being. The study found that as screen time increased, there was a decrease in task and homework completion, staying calm when challenged, and interest in learning new things.
Besides a decrease in school performance, excessive screen use can also lead to a variety of health issues. Many teens use “gaming” as a form of entertainment as well as social connection. They can spend hours in their room playing games on their computer which greatly reduces their time for physical activity and developing face to face communication and socialization skills. The use of digital media at night can also cause sleep problems. The light from the screen, as well as the stimulatory effect of using digital media can delay or disrupt sleep causing decreased performance in school. Excessive screen time can also lead to obesity by reducing opportunities to exercise and by promoting a more sedentary lifestyle.