TV, Screen Time and Health
Health Effects of Too Much Screen Time
Screen time has an impact when it comes to our health. Too often watching television, playing video games, spending time online or in front of a phone or computer screen replaces going outside, taking walks, playing and getting the physical activity needed to stay healthy.
What You Should Know
There are many possible negative health effects from spending too much time in front of a screen. According to the Mayo Clinic, excessive or poor quality screen time is linked with:
- Irregular sleep
- Behavioral problems
- Impaired social skills1
Excess time spent in front of a screen may also affect our food choices. Mindless eating and snacking are common while watching television, and advertising often promotes less healthy food options, which can affect the choices we make both for snacks and at meal time.1
Being aware of screen time is especially important for children, as they are developing habits that can last a lifetime.
What You Can Do
For toddlers and younger children
- Limit screen time for children younger than 18 months
- For kids from 18 to 24 mo. only allow high quality media use with supervision
- Limit screen time for children 2-5 to one hour per day
- Monitor for appropriate subject matter
- Use educational programming with music, movement and stories for kids ages 2-51
- Keep screens out of the bedroom
- Plan how much television you will watch as a family
- Prioritize unplugged, unstructured playtime
- Don’t use screen time as a reward
- Create technology-free zones such as during mealtime2
- American Academy of Pediatrics, Children's Health Topics: Internet/Media Use: Resources to help parents understand media's impact on children and establish guidelines for media use.
- Active Bodies Active Minds - Screen-time Reduction: Provides resources for early childhood professionals and families
- Program for the Study of Media and Health, Kaiser Family Foundation: Highlights research of the Kaiser Family Foundation concerning the relationship between entertainment media and health, with a special focus on children and media.
1Mayo Clinic. (2016). Healthy Lifestyle: Children’s Health; Screen time and children – How to guide your child. Retrieved from the Mayo Clinic website at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/screen-time/art-20047952.
2Radesky, J., & Christakis, D. (2016). Media and Young Minds. Pediatrics, 138(5). DOI: 10.1542/peds.2016-2591. Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162591.