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Health Team

Too much screen time is bad, doctors warn

Posted July 21, 2020 6:25 p.m. EDT
Updated July 21, 2020 7:26 p.m. EDT

— The pandemic has kids in front of computers and smartphones now, more than ever, but health experts warn that too much time in front of a screen can be bad for your child’s health.

As remote learning becomes a substitute for classrooms this fall, many children will be glued to their learning devices.

Shakkia DeJesus has an 8-year-old daughter who will be learning remotely full time this fall. She worries the time her daughter spends in front of a screen may be too long.

“I know that it’s the new thing and technology is taking over but in the long run it’s not good for kids or adults to stand in front of a computer screen for so long,” DeJesus said.

And that’s exactly right, Dr. Kori Flower with UNC says, spending too much time on any digital screen can affect a child’s sleeping pattern, social skills and concentration.

“Spending too much time on screens can take the place of other helpful activities that our minds need, bodies need and emotions need,” Dr. Flower said.

A good rule of thumb is to make sure your child is taking breaks and taking them often.

Allow a 10-15 minute break after one hour of screen time. “It is important to allow them time to get up, move around, take a break and maybe get a little bit of exercise and then get back to the learning, which they’ll be better at after moving around,” Flower said.

Flower says it’s also important parents have a conversation about media use and develop a plan that meets their families needs, something DeJesus says she’ll need to work on.

“It’s definitely a learning process for her, she might not always understand ‘Hey mom I want to be on YouTube’ and I’ll say no, you were just online learning for 5 hours,” DeJesus said.

Since many children will already be spending enough time online, Dr. Flower says parents should make sure any free time is spent doing other activities that don’t require a computer or laptop.

Outdoor activities, for example- are both safe and beneficial.

For help: The American Academy of Pediatrics "family media use" plan https://www.healthychildren.org/English/media/Pages/default.aspx

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