Growing Up Social: Don't Let Children Get Too Much Screen Time

I’ve researched this topic for some time mostly to prove to my kids -  18 and 21 - that too much screen time is NOT good. At least that’s what I thought. I knew about 10 years ago that this facebook thing was going to be a problem when I used threat of removal from it as a consequence for an unwanted behavior. I thought my then 11 year old daughter was going to implode at the thought of not being able to “visit” with her friends...All 200+ of them!

I intuitively knew this was not good but it wasn’t until then, based on her reaction, that I knew this was going to be an epidemic and I had to begin defining  what was going to be my role as a parent and counselor.  

That said, there are pros and cons.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • The average American child age 8-18 spends seven hours and 38 minutes per day plugged into some sort of screen. And based on an article in the Washington Post in 2016 it’s up to 9 hours for teens
  • The number of people in the U.S. spending more than 20 hours a week on the Internet nearly doubled between 2008 and 2015 to more than 43 million people.

  • By the age of seven a child born today will have spent one full year of 24 hour days watching screen media.

  • Today’s teen are 40% less empathetic than those of thirty years ago and College students who hit campus after 2000 have empathy levels that are 40% lower than those who came before them,according to a stunning new study presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science by University of Michigan researchers.

  • Almost 75% of children aged 2 and younger have access to some type of “smart” mobile device at Home

  • 30% of households admit to leaving their television on even when no one watches exposing children to almost 4 hours of background television on a typical day

YOU DO THE MATH

If kids sleep eight hours a night, attend school and other activities for 8-9 hours, and text about a hundred messages a day, opportunities for real-time face to face time are scant.

Although it’s easy to criticize our kids, we as adults are are just as guilty. Who bought their devices and who are they modeling?  Are we spending far too much time on our cellphones texting and calling while driving telling our children, “Don’t you dare do this.” We’ve replaced board games with cable tv and electronics. We don’t even go for an outing to the mall anymore, instead shop online.  The frontal lobe and now cerebral cortex of the young brain is developing without the ability to learn empathy or problem solve.  

It may be too late for us , but we can help them! Stay tuned in next month’s column for some healthy strategies.