Screen Time Background
The advent of mobile devices compared to desktop computers and laptops have made screen time much more accessible. Too much screen time for children and teens has been linked to poor sleep. The benefits of sleep are numerous. Sleep helps with learning and builds the immune system. With recent outbreaks of the flu and coronavirus, sleep is essential in helping your child develop a strong immune system to not get sick in school and afterschool activities.
We reviewed 67 studies published from 1999 to early 2014. We found that screen time is adversely associated with sleep outcomes (primarily shortened duration and delayed timing) in 90% of studies.
Is Screen Time All Bad?
Screen time also takes away from a child’s opportunity to be active with play (an essential occupation for children), sports, socialization, and development. While screen time itself is not bad, too much of one thing can be harmful. Some screen time is beneficial for your child to develop digital literacy at a young age. To combat too much screen time, device manufacturers such as Apple have included features to log, analyze, and restrict screen time for your children. Perhaps you yourself may be logging a lot of screen time too.
The majority of young children are not participating in adequate amounts of physical activity and in excessive amounts of screen-based entertainment. It is likely that physical activity may decline and that screen-based entertainment may increase with age.
Screen Time Set Up
Take a look at the video at the top on how to set up Screen Time on IOS devices.
For android devices, Google has created a resource titled, “Manage your child’s screen time“.
Screen Time as a Reinforcing Agent
Screen time should not be perceived as a negative thing overall. For children with behavioral issues or just learning in general, screen time can be used as a form of positive reinforcement. For example, if your child completes their homework within a reasonable amount of time, you can award them with X amount of screen time. This gives your child an incentive to perform the desired behavior.
Hale, L., & Guan, S. (2015). Screen time and sleep among school-aged children and adolescents: a systematic literature review. Sleep medicine reviews, 21, 50-58.
Hinkley, T., Salmon, J. O., Okely, A. D., Crawford, D., & Hesketh, K. (2012). Preschoolers’ physical activity, screen time, and compliance with recommendations. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 44(3), 458-465.