Here's how much screen time should parents allow their children, as per doctors
With lockdowns continuing in the third year of Covid-19 pandemic, children are spending far too much time in front of smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, TVs and computers screens and in today's world, it can be even tougher to keep babies and toddlers away from them. While experts consider kids' video chatting with grandparents or other family members as quality time interaction, they warn that too much use may lead to health problems.
Why limit children's screen time?
Several reports on Children and adolescents' screen usage advises parents to limit the amount of time their children are permitted to spend on their phones, laptops, tablets and video games, irrespective of how entertaining and educational they are or help in keeping children occupied. Explaining the reason behind this, Dr Amit Gupta, Senior Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist at Motherhood Hospital in Noida shared, “Screen usage has been related to an increase in sedentary behaviour in children and teenagers, according to research.”
While there is no long-term evidence linking screen time to an increased risk of heart disease or high cholesterol, Dr Amit Gupta highlighted that there is a growing evidence that it is linked to obesity. He warned, “The blue light from screens can make it difficult for them to fall asleep and lack of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of obesity.”
Dr Arockia Virgin Fernando, Fertility and IVF Consultant Gynecologist, who also consults on Practo, too stressed the importance of parents reducing their kids' screen time. She revealed, “The reason to reduce screen time is that children's eyes are affected and communication skills are affected or slowed down. Screen causes irritability and lack of sleep in young children, leads to speech delays and increases hyperactivity, aggravates autism and also causes autistic spectrum features if action is not taken early.”
How much screen time should parents allow their children?
“It is advised that parents restrict their children's screen usage to no more than two hours each day. The suggested limit for younger children, ages 2 to 5, is one hour each day,” Dr Amit Gupta suggested. Advising parents to encourage their children to play outside and engage with their classmates in person, Dr Amit reasoned, “Media-free zones, such as no screen time in the bedroom, as well as media-free periods, such as no electronics at the dinner table, can be advantageous.”
Sharing hier view on the issue, Dr Arockia advised, “Children below the age of 2 years should only be exposed to screen time for education twice or thrice a week for 1-hour maximum. Children between 2 to 5 years of age should be using devices for 1 hour per day for education purposes. Kids aged 6 years and above should be allowed to use screens for not more than 2 hours per day.”
As for babies younger than 18 months, a report published in The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that they get no screen time at all. This is because most of a baby's brain development happens in the first 2 years of life which is why it is crucial for babies and toddlers to explore their environment and experience many sights, sounds, tastes and textures by interacting and playing with others instead of being left to engage with TVs, tablets, computers, smartphones or gaming systems.