Study Shows Childhood Screen Time Habits Extend Into Adulthood

Childhood Screen Time Habits
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Limiting a child’s electronics use was easier when TV was the main source of screen time. But now that kids have access to tablets, video games, smartphones, and computers, limiting their access becomes a little more complicated. It’s harder to track of how much time a child uses each device - especially when they're using portable handheld devices.

Although there have been a lot of compelling studies about the dangers of too much screen time, new research shows that too much screen time can have a lifelong impact on your child's daily habits.

This new study highlights the importance of setting healthy habits now to set your child up for future success.

What Researchers Discovered

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, reports a link between childhood screen time and adult viewing habits. The study is based on a 10 year study conducted by Belgian researchers. They examined screen time behavior among 10-year-old participants, and then followed up with them again 10 years later. They interviewed the participants again to learn about their screen time habits at age 20.

They found that more screen time at age 10 meant more screen time at age 20. The results for boys were especially significant – those who exceeded two hours of screen time as children were three to five times more likely to exceed it as adults.

The tween years are a formative time marked by rapid changes in development. Some of the habits formed during this stage of development can last into adulthood – including screen time.

Children who grow up with unhealthy viewing habits may be more likely to engage in a lot of screen time as adults.

The Dangers of Too Much Screen Time

While some screen time can be educational, too much time with electronics can be harmful. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages any media use for children under 2.

They recommend no more than two hours of screen time per day for older children.

An abundance of screen time has been linked to a variety of health problems, sleep issues, and behavior problems. Watching too much TV or playing too many video games may also impair a student’s academic performance.

To reduce the risks, it’s important to set limits on electronics and media use. Allowing too much freedom or giving kids unrestricted access can be very harmful.

Establish Good Habits Now

Set your child up for success by promoting good habits now. Even if you haven’t been doing so, it’s never too late to begin implementing new rules. Although your child may resist your attempts to set time limits on media, it’s important to stick to it. Eventually, your child will adjust.

Encourage your child to find healthier ways to spend his time. Activities that involve physical activity, like riding a bike and working in a garden, are good for your child’s development.

Role model healthy media use as well. Turn off the TV while you’re eating dinner and avoid using the TV for background noise while you’re doing household tasks.

Establish clear rules for electronics. For example, don’t allow portable video games to be used at your child’s leisure. Otherwise, your child may be able to sneak in a lot of extra screen time each day. A few minutes here and there can add to several hours over the course of a day.

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