How much screen time is too much? As students are increasingly obsessed
with screen time, parents need to set limits on how much TV and online
time their students are allocated. Allowing unfettered access to the online
world may cause students to live lives that are too sedentary and may
also affect their social development.
Why limit screen time?
While allowing your students to spend as much time as they like watching
TV or online does keep them quiet and happy, it can also have negative
effects on their health and behavior. The sedentary lifestyle encouraged
by time online can lead to childhood obesity and an increased incidence
Too much screen time can lead to irregular sleeping patterns. This, in
turn, can lead to attention deficits, poor academic performance and weight gain.
According to the May Clinic: “Elementary students who spend more
than two hours a day watching TV or using a computer are more likely to
have emotional, social and attention problems. Exposure to video games
is also linked with an increased risk of attention problems in children.
Watching excessive amounts of TV at age 4 is linked with bullying at ages
6 through 11.”
Children under 3 should not be watching TV or playing with phones or tablets.
According to the BBC: “Dr Aric Sigman is warning that screens “may
produce” an increased level of dopamine in children’s brains.
He suggests this could lead to a dependency on screen media when they
In France, TV shows aimed at an audience younger than 3 are banned to protect
younger children from too much exposure.
According to a study by Public Health in England, children who spend most
of their time in front of a screen have a lower self-esteem and are more
prone to emotional problems.
How to limit screen time
If you think your student is spending too much time online, limit their
access to the internet to just a couple of hours a day. It’s important
that you discuss with them why they should limit screen time and the rules
around accessing the internet and watching TV.
Don’t eat in front of the TV, but take meal times to connect as a
family. Be a good example by unplugging regularly yourself.
Be more active as a family. Plan activities that get your family moving
and out of the house.
Don’t leave the TV on in the background as this will prove to be
distracting. Move TVs and computers from bedrooms into common areas.
Not only is it important to limit screen time, it’s also important
to keep tabs on what your student is being exposed to online. You can
enforce screen time limitations by programming phones, computers and tablets
to switch off after the designated time allowances have been reached.