As parents many of us feel excessively guilty when we resort to screens either as a virtual babysitter or succumbing to endless pressure from our offspring. It’s a question I talk about regularly to parents in workplace talks, the media, schools or other events, often with reference to recent research on the subject. With the subject back in the media spotlight, this time I wanted to provide an easy reference to articles in the media and research that provide a balanced view on the subject. I will provide my analysis of these to give clear tips and take-aways in Part 2 here.
Why should we worry about children’s use of screens?
What Screen Time and Screen Media Do To Your Child’s Brain and Sensory Processing Ability: this is an extremely thorough article providing many of the facts around the impact of excessive screen time on the brain.
- What screen time can really do to kids brains: suggesting a potential impact on frontal lobe development and discusses the addiction-like affects of the dopamine screen time can produce. However, it agrees this relates to excessive use of particular types of games, and mentions that well managed usage can have benefits too.
Screen time and young children: Promoting health and development in a digital world: an academic paper from the Canadian Paediatric Association based on a study of under 5s, providing a thorough, balanced view.
- Toddlers’ screen time linked to slower speech development, study finds: providing details of a study into 6 to 24 month old children which indicated a link between more use of hand-held devices and slow speech development. This does not prove causation but does suggest some link between too much screen time and slower development.
- Association between screen time and depression: this article reports on a particular study by Twenge but also provides suggests there are 2 sides to the story with research so far providing conflicting perspectives.
- Teenagers who watch screen in their free time do worse than their peers: From the Guardian, this piece looks at the potential link between screen time and exam performance.
- The actual effects of screen time on kids development: looking at the potential impact on young children in each area of development.
But it’s not all bad news:
- Children benefit from the right sort of screen time: focusing on the importance of the content children are consuming on screens and the huge potential for learning and inspiring children through the right sort of content.
- More screen time isn’t all that bad: citing a study on 16 year olds, the article suggests that, at this age, children are resilient up to 6 hours of screen time per day with a negligibly small association between screen time and things like depression and delinquency.
- 257 minutes: the time teens can spend on computers each day without harming wellbeing: exploring the benefits of some screen time based on a study of 120,000 15 year olds.
Read part 2 to understand the lessons and tips I feel you can take away from these.