Screen Time – More Evidence

Here’s some new research that goes as far as to suggest that excessive time spent in front of screens (TV, computer, PS3 etc.) can actually be psychologically harmful to the child.

The article advocates something that i have long argued for, and practiced with my own son – a daily screen limit and some scope for the child to negotiate, plan and make some choices about how to operate within that overall limit.

Reuters Article on Screen Time

Believe me, it’s worth the discipline and the effort to put such a scheme in place. Also, the more parents who do it, the easier it will become as there’s less likelihood of your children believing they’re being subjected to something ‘unfair’.


7 Responses

  1. Physical activity is must. We have kept evenings as time to be spent outside in the park and that brings balance. Just TV or computer or games on internet is sure recipe for screwing the kid’s behaviour.

    Above all, what dramatically changes in a kid is their tolerance towards others when they are more exposed to virtual world.

    Incidentally, We unknowingly kept 2 hrs as allowed exposure to TV or computer per day and this study recommends the same. Relief.

    Thanks for the article.


  2. While my son is very keen on sports and spends his evenings at the park playing football or badminton, I’m not comfortable about the time he spends on either a TV or a computer.

    I’ve tried everything from budgeting screen time to screen time on weekends to completely no screens for a fortnight. The issue is about sustaining these schemes I start at home. They never last beyond a couple of weeks. And then a week later, I start another.

    Does anyone have tips on how to sustain the system?


    • As long as time spent on virtual world is within acceptable limit (say 1 or 2 hrs per day), there is no need to panic. A total zero exposure to virtual world is also not recommended.

      Tip: Institute a reward system. Reward being watching TV only if task X gets over and stick to it. The moment you relax, kid knows how to get around next time.

  3. Thanks, Ashish. In fact I’ve just started on a reward scheme — a couple of days ago. I’m planning to mark myself also on sticking to the dictum. 🙂


    • Great stuff – you have my 100% support – there may be some challenges, but it’s a path worth treading for the sake of our kids.

      A couple of issues;

      a) Sometimes important to make sure we set a good example ourselves – not much good telling them to use screen time valuably, but then walking in the home when we get home from work, switching on the box and sitting in front of it for 3 or more hours – kids will be very quick to call us if we don’t practice what we preach.
      b) Keep the communication reasonable, even when your child gets desperately manipulative with theirs. Give choices such as – you can watch 1 hour now or 1/2 now and use the other half for your favourite programme which I know is at x time.
      c) A bit like with dieting, a day when you don’t keep to the plan doesn’t mean failure and a reason to write off the programme. Instead we have to remind ourselves how important this is for our children’s futures, that we are doing it because we care and love them.
      d) Help the child with alternatives, especially in the early months. Switching on the box was always a ‘no-brainer’, once on, no need to make decisions, choices etc. Now, you may get a shock as your child might have a room full of expensive toys, games etc, but will swear they have ‘nothing to do’. Help them to plan and be available for at least a bit of time to play with them. Maybe increase the selection of board games in the house. Even sit down as a whole family to play something like Monopoly.
      Maybe decide to take up chess with them, or something like and plan to ensure you can give that time.
      e) Be ready for the limit testing, including at times deception and outright falsehood about screen time used at other children’s homes. It doesn’t mean your child became bad. There do have to be consequences – maybe loss of screen time for a day or two and they need to know that they’ve stepped outside the house rules.
      It can sometimes be even better if there are a group of children who play together and all the parents agree to implement at the same time – the same rules, same consistency and cross-referencing what goes on at each others’ houses.
      f) You really know it’s working when your kid says something like, “I can read best in my whole class because I don’t waste as much time just watching TV”.

      Ultimately, I believe every child craves consistency from us. Barriers which are consistently applied, within which they are given as much autonomy as they can deal with – expanded over time as they prove they can handle it and maturity levels rise. This is parenting with love and responsibility.

  4. Thanks Mark. That’s a valid point. You need to be seen following the rules you make.


  5. I’m glad to see more and more people working on limiting screen time for their kids. It definitely leaves less room for the good old “but-my-friend-can-watch-as-long-as-he-wants” gripe! We have a 1 hour limit for our 6-year-old – the same by default for the 2-year-old, though I wish it could be less for the younger one. My older boy had NO regular screen time till he was 3-and-a-half, and I am so glad for what that’s done for him. Thanks for the thumbs-up on this one, Mark – coming from you it carries some serious weight!

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