The Harmful Effects of Too Much Screen Time for Kids

Why You Need to Limit Your Child's TV, Computer, and Video Game Use

Don't allow your child to have too much screen time.
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Today’s children and teenagers have grown up with a vast array of electronic devices at their fingertips.Since this sort of technology wasn’t available to previous generations, it can be difficult for parents to know exactly how to set rules to limit screen time for children.

Most kids are fascinated by TV, computers, video games, and smartphones. Allowing unlimited screen time can be the easiest ways to keep them entertained over long periods of time.

But too much time behind a digital device can be harmful.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents place a reasonable limit on entertainment media. Despite those recommendations, children between the ages of 8 and 18 average 7 ½ hours of entertainment media per day, according to a 2010 study by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

The Negative Effects of Too Much Screen Time

Spending too much time in front of electronics has been shown to have harmful effects. Too much screen time has been linked to the following:

  • Obesity –Too much time engaging in sedentary activity, such as watching TV and playing video games, can be a risk factor for children becoming overweight.
  • Sleep problems – Although many parents use TV to help kids wind down before bed, screen time before bed can backfire. The light emitted from screens interferes with the sleep cycle in the brain and can lead to insomnia.
  • Behavior Problems- Elementary school-age children who watch TV or use a computer more than two hours per day are more likely to have emotional, social, and attention problems, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Excessive TV viewing has even been linked to increased bullying behavior.
  • Educational Problems- Elementary school-age children who have televisions in their bedrooms do worse on academic testing.
  • Violence- Exposure to violent TV shows, movies, music and video games can cause children to become desensitized to it. Eventually, they may use violence to solve problems and may imitate what they see on TV, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Establishing Rules with Electronics

Kids need rules that to limit their screen time. Additionally, their electronic activities should be monitored. Establish rules for electronics use that will prevent technology from causing physical, emotional, social and academic problems.

  • Establish Safety Rules – Kids need rules to keep them safe from cyberbullying, online predators and exposure to violence. Establish household rules that make safety a top priority.
  • Establish Rules that Promote Social Skills– Children and teens who spend too much time using electronic media may struggle with social skills. Although many teens may argue that texting is socializing, it’s pretty clear that it is a much different type of socializing than face-to-face interaction. Establish rules that will encourage your child to participate in plenty of real-life social activities and set limits on electronics, such as, “No texting at the dinner table.”
  • Establish Rules that Promote Good Health – Kids need rules that will teach life skills, such as how to keep their mind and body healthy. Create rules that will limit your child’s sedentary activity. Monitor what your child is viewing so that exposure to violence and non-educational material is kept to a minimum.


The American Academy of Pediatrics. Media and Children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics. More TV Before Bedtime Linked to Later Sleep Onset in Children.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8 to 18 Year Olds.

Borzekowski, D., Hancox, R., Zimmerman, F. (July, 2005). Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, July 2005; vol 159: pp 607-613, 614-618, 619-625.

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Children and TV Violence.

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