CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Between cellphones, tablets and TVs – it’s no doubt kids are getting more screen time.
But how does too much screen time impact a child’s health, and what steps can parents take to cut back on it?
“I think it can have a physical impact in a lot of different ways. If kids are watching screen time for a long time, they’ll be more sedentary. They won’t be moving as much, so less physical activity and exercise,” explained Noah Schwartz, MD, with Cleveland Clinic Children’s. “We know that screen time affects sleep in a big way. There have been a lot of studies showing that screen time can affect children’s academics.”
According to Dr. Schwartz, kids should not be scrolling through their phones before bed because it’s a stimulating activity that’s keeping them awake. He recommends no screen time at least an hour before bed.
To cut down on screen time even more, parents can set other designated times when phones aren’t allowed like during dinner.
Another simple thing parents can do is turn off the TV if no one’s watching it. Dr. Schwartz said kids will always think it’s time to watch TV if it’s constantly on as background noise.
Above all, it’s crucial for parents to set an example of healthy screen time use for their children to follow.
“I think first and foremost, it’s lead by example. If your kids see you on your phone, then they’re going to be on their phone. If you’re at the dinner table and you’re scrolling through and you’re looking at stuff, they’re watching you,” Dr. Schwartz said. “Kids are sponges, and they’re absorbing their environment. They follow what they see.”
Dr. Schwartz encourages parents to participate in their child’s screen time as much as possible to make the activity more interactive.
He stresses it’s especially important for parents to watch content with younger children so they can help explain what’s going on and provide an educational benefit.