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Why more screen time for kids may not be bad

Lana Bandoim's picture

Are you worried about the amount of time your kids spend in front of a screen?


Multiple experts have claimed that children who spend long hours in front of a TV or playing video games are risking their future and their health. Parents often fight with their kids about screen time and try to limit the number of hours they are allowed to use a computer, phone or other device. However, new research indicates that there is a negligibly small association between behavior issues and screen time.

New research contradicts previous findings

A new study published in Psychiatric Quarterly reveals that moderate use of screen time does not lead to a higher risk of behavior problems among children. Researchers divided teens into four groups based on the amount of time they spend in front of a screen. Group one did not have any screen time. Group two had low users with two hours of screen time per day. Group three had moderate users with three to six hours of screen time per day. Group four had excessive users with more than six hours of screen time per day.

Researchers discovered that the low and moderate users of screen time did not have more behavior issues. In addition, those who were in front of a computer, phone or TV for two to six hours a day did not have higher levels of depression and delinquency. This contradicts previous recommendations from the CDC and others that suggested more than two hours a day would be dangerous for kids and have a negative impact on their behavior.

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The dangers of limiting screen time

Parents and health experts often worry that screen time can hurt the child’s development. However, the lead researcher of the study, Christopher Ferguson, points out not using screens may be more harmful because modern society is built around technology. Children and teens need to learn how to use computers, phones and other devices, so they are able to apply the knowledge at school and at work.

As technology advances, it is important to note that more schools and workplaces are requiring that projects be completed online. Children who do not know how to use technology are at a disadvantage that can hurt them long-term as they grow up.

What should you do with the new study results?

You may be tired of grabbing the video game controllers out of your children’s hands and fighting with them about the amount of time they spend texting on their phones. You may also be tired of negotiating with your kids about how many hours a day they can spend playing online. Although previous recommendations point to limiting screen time to two hours a day, the new study suggests that up to six hours a day may be enough. Ultimately, you have to find the balance between screen time and play or school time for your own kids while paying attention to the potential impact of technology on their future.