10:43 AM

Antidote to TOO MUCH Screen Time

Time for you and your kids to put down devices and pick up some play time

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Kimberly Brown, MD

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Does it seem as if you and your kids spend more time facing handheld screens than interacting with each other? The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that kids between ages 8 and 18 spend an average of seven hours a day using a screen or mobile device. Pediatrician Kimberly Brown, MD, with the Children’s Clinic at Lehigh Valley Hospital–17th Street, sees this trend too. “In the last five to 10 years, screen time has gone way up – particularly in the form of phone and tablet usage,” Brown says.

What’s the risk?

Sedentary use of screen devices can contribute to overweight or obesity among kids. Devices also may interfere with sleep and increase social isolation. There are other concerns. “Reading books is on the decline, and witnessing violence or inappropriately mature content in online media – especially without a parent providing context or limiting that exposure – is increasing among kids,” Brown says.

Set limits

Parents can do a number of things including setting and enforcing limits to screen time:

  • Children under 2 years: little to no TV time Preschoolers: no more than one hour a day
  • School-agers: no more than two hours a day (not including time for school work)
  • Teens: “I suggest for teens that sports/outdoor play time should be encouraged after school and that school work should be completed prior to allowing screen time,” Brown says.

Fun is the screen ‘antidote’

Young children

  • Outdoor play
  • Indoor play
  • Reading
  • Playing games
  • Create artwork
  • Imaginative play

Older children

  • Outdoor play
  • Organized sports
  • Reading
  • Hobbies – art, music, cooking, building