It is common for children to get upset when their parents ask them to stop using screens. In most cases, the concern is not about what they are watching, but how much time they spend watching. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that kids and teenagers who are exposed to digital media and screens for long periods are at risk of weight problems like obesity, sleep disturbances, cyberbullying, poor academic performance, and safety issues.
Schools are starting to encourage parents to have conversations with their children about their online activities. So, how much time do your children spend on their phones, TVs, and computers? A recent study by Common Sense Media found that children as young as 8 years old spend an average of 2 hours and 19 minutes on screen media every day. Of their total screen time, 72% is dedicated to watching television and videos.
These numbers have significantly increased since 2011 when the average daily screen time for children 8 years old and younger was only 1 hour and 55 minutes. The time spent on most electronic devices, including TVs, computers, video games, and DVDs, has decreased since 2011. However, time spent on mobile devices has dramatically increased. (These latest numbers were obtained from a survey of nearly 1,455 parents with children 8 years old or younger conducted in January and February.)
For children between the ages of 8 and 12, the average daily screen time is 4 hours and 36 minutes, according to a 2015 study by Common Sense Media. Teenagers, on the other hand, spend an average of 4 hours and 30 minutes on screen media per day and 6 hours on all types of media, including reading and listening to music.
The report shows that television viewing is the most common activity among teenagers, with almost 62% of participants in the survey saying they watch TV every day. However, the 2015 study also found gender differences in how teenagers use their screen time. Males spend more time playing console video games, while females spend more time on music and social media. Mobile devices account for 41% of total screen time among teenagers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen media usage for children under two years old to video chats. For older children, they advise parents to choose high-quality content and watch it together with their kids to help them understand what they are watching. The academy also emphasizes that screen media should not interfere with a child’s sleep and exercise routines. They encourage parents to establish media-free periods and designate areas in the home where media is strictly not allowed.
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