I receive a lot of questions from parents regarding television, video game and computer time and their children. There are now numerous studies regarding the effects of screen time on children’s physical and mental development by the American Academy of Pediatrics. They have found that screen time in a child’s early years (birth to age 5) negatively affects a child’s physical health and their chances for success in school.
Surveys have shown that on average, babies as young as six months to three years old spend nearly two hours a day with screen media (which equates to roughly 20% of their waking hours). Also, 40% of parents with young children report their family TV’s are on “most” or “all” of the time even when no one is watching (this is called background TV). What the research conducted on the effects of screen time is teaching us is that a high correlation exists between the amount of screen time and obesity and lower success in school.
“Active free play,” in contrast to screen time, lessens the risk of obesity and related health problems. Active free play also helps young children develop imagination, creativity, and problem solving ability—all of which lead to positive, health-promoting, lifelong skills. We have also learned that healthy brain development in very young children depends on emotionally positive, live interactions with adults, other children and their surroundings. Young children develop strong vocabularies and other language skills—strong indicators of academic success—from hearing many words spoken and read directly to them each day from family members and caregivers.
Attached is a flyer (front page, back page) with 10 suggestions for you as parents to incorporate into your home with further information regarding screen time and children, along with links for additional information.
Fun Fact: When the TV is on, children hear an average of 656 words less from their mother and 200 less from their father.
Rachel Taylor, M.S., QMHP
This post also appeared on the Parenting Success Network.