Summer-time and Screen-Time
How will your children spend their time this summer? Riding bikes? Swimming? Playing with friends? Attending summer camps or classes? Relaxing and reading?
What about screen-time, the amount of time watching TV, playing video games or using mobile devices? We are in an era of accelerating screen-time for children of all ages. Current research shows an average of 7+ hours per day of screen-time for young children and as screen-time increases the amount of sleep-time decreases.
According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) the use of media is the leading activity for children and teenagers other than sleeping and there is considerable evidence that a bedroom TV increases the risk for obesity, substance use, and exposure to sexual content. The AAP now recommends limiting screen time for children to 1-2 hours per day and discourages exposure to all screen media for children under age two.
Many child development experts are concerned. When children are physically engaged in a challenging activity, like learning to walk or ride a bike or skate, their brains are stretched; muscles are strengthened; coordination improves. Children’s brains are elastic and grow the most during the first 10 years of life through lots of physical and mental exercise.
Social and emotional development is equally important and is dependent on human interactions. Children learn to read body language and appropriate behavior from experience, trial and error. The less time children interact with peers and nurturing adults, the less time to develop life skills that determine success.
How are your children spending their time this summer? Encourage them to get outside and move, stretch their bodies and minds, develop friendships through play and shared experience, and savor summer with time to relax and rejuvenate. Come to think of it, we could all benefit from more outdoor play.