what about Screen Time is bad for kids? Is it the sitting around for long periods of time, the content they watch or just staring at a pixelated screen?


what about Screen Time is bad for kids? Is it the sitting around for long periods of time, the content they watch or just staring at a pixelated screen?

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Babies and little kids have a lot of things to learn about the world. How things fall down. How things land when you throw them. And also they need to learn how their bodies move and hold onto things and how to walk and crawl.

When the screens are on, babies and little kids aren’t doing the important things that help them learn. They are sitting still and they’re just interested in funny lights and sounds. Those lights and sounds don’t teach them much when they’re so little, so it’s better to turn them off and let baby learn other things.

There have been studies that have linked early childhood TV watching with autism. I don’t know how valid these studies are but they may play into the idea that you should limit screen time.

Screen time is bad in that a child isn’t getting the exercise, social interaction, and motor development they need. However, not all screen time is equally bad. There is a huge difference between a preschooler singing and dancing along with an educational kids’ show on a television and a teenager endlessly scrolling feeds on their phone that can damage their mental and emotional health.

The research on whether or not “screen time” is bad is non-conclusive and very much up for debate at this point. People will often cite one or two such studies without acknowledging the studies limitations (i.e. applying them too broadly) drawing conclusions that aren’t supported by the actual research (often the fault of attention grabbing but inaccurate headlines) or ignoring similar conflicting studies that call in to question the original conclusion. Its definitely something to be aware of, too much of any activity can be problematic, but often new forms of entertainment/engagement are treated this way (see radio, tv, etc.).

The main concerns seem to fall into two areas.

1. Impact on development of things like motor skills, attention, etc. due to lack of physical interaction and/or overstimulation
2. Lack of physical exercise due to sedentary nature of a lot of screen related activities (though not all, augmented reality such as Pokemon GO for example can increase physical activity).

The question is the degree to which either concern is merited. In all likelihood its one of those things where extreme amounts are probably bad, but done in moderation there is little to no downside.

Plus, as one of my parent friends recently joked, if the choices are my kid watching a tv show for 30-60 minutes or me (the parent) losing my mind, the former is probably better than the latter!

It’s the fact that the time that they spend in front of a TV is not spent doing something else.

If screen time is quality time, then it’s quality time (educational videos, homeworks, video lectures, video chat with friends, some games that require creativity/team work/intelligence).

But very often a screen can consume three hours of their afternoon with no purpose. If the screen was off, the kids would have had to be creative, find things to do, etc.

And in any case screen time does not help to develop fine and gross motor skills.