How much “screen time” is okay?

In this digital age, parents with young children may begin to ask themselves how much TV their little ones should be watching a day, or how long they should spend on the internet. The question raises issues of how much technological exposure is healthy for children during their formative years.

Time spent in front of a TV or laptop screen is becoming more common because the devices themselves are more prevalent in society and in households. However, spending prolonged periods of time staring at a screen means prolonged periods of inactivity and no movement.

The less time children spend moving around, the more at risk they are of gaining extra weight and, because of that extra weight, they are also at a higher risk for health issues.

This fact is also applicable to adults. Time spent watching TV, on a computer, playing a hand-held game or texting makes people more in active. To curb the inactivity it is best to limit children who are younger than four to one hour or less of television time.

This small amount may seem extreme, but by limiting time spent plugged into a game, TV, or computer means more time for children to go outside and explore the world around them. This also allows them more time to make friends with children their own age and be active outside.

The younger years are more formative and spending them outside with other children can help develop better social skills and help them connect to others.

For those older than four, two to four hours may be best. Children still need to be active as they get older and limiting screen time during the week will help them avoid gaining extra weight as well as help them socialize with others.

Also, children who are older need more time for homework, after school activities, and being with friends as they continue to grow as people.

Setting a time, and then setting a timer, can help to limit the amount of time spent on the internet or in front of a computer screen. By limiting the time spent with technology, children may gain better social skills and healthier lives.