With so many different studies telling us that it’s okay (or not okay) to let our children have an abundant amount of screen time, there’s new research that parents need to pay attention to. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents absolutely need to pay attention to both how much screen time their children are racking up each day along with the content that they are viewing.
The study suggests the more time your child zombies out in front of YouTube, the more of a chance it will stunt their growth in communication, motor skills, problem-solving, and personal social skills. This is all based on a screening tool called the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. These are all the necessary communication skills kids need in order to be happy and healthy children and adults later on in life, so it's a big impact.
"On average, the children in our study were viewing screens two to three hours per day. This means that the majority of the children in our sample are exceeding the pediatric guidelines of no more than one hour of high-quality programming per day," said Sheri Madigan, an assistant professor and research chair in determinants of child development at the University of Calgary, who was first author of the study.
Madigan added, "Higher screen time viewing at 2 and 3 years of age was associated with children's delays in meeting developmental milestones at 3 and 5 years of age, respectively," she said. "This study shows that, when used in excess, screen time can have consequences for children's development. Parents can think of screens like they do giving junk food to their kids: In small doses, it's OK, but in excess, it has consequences."
So, what is a parent to do? First and foremost, set rules and regulations at home. Also, don’t be afraid to set your foot down. If your child has been spending hours a day playing games like Fortnite or Roblox, it’s time to have a serious conversation with them about their online gaming habits.
Of course, there are other options that can help pass your child’s “boredom,” at home, so to speak. Encourage them to pick up a book or have the entire family play a board game together. Better yet, go outside. Sooner or later they might realize that the imaginary games they play outside or so much more fun than the virtual worlds they’ve created in Minecraft.