No television on school days, that s the rule in my house. But you never said I couldn t watch shows on the laptop, reasoned my 13 year old after I busted her watching YouTube videos on the computer. With so many screens in the house, kids are getting more screen time than ever before. But how much is too much?
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that depends on the child's age. They recommend two hours maximum for an elementary age child, and not all at one time. Short bursts of time. You have to really think about the total screen time for the day, says Dr. Martine Richardson Sachs, a developmental pediatrician at Providence hospital in Portland. That includes all screen time, from video games and television to smart phones, computers and iPads.
For middle and high school-age children, experts say screen time should be open to discussion since some schools use computers for homework assignments. But they say parents should not be afraid to check up on their child. If their homework is spreading out over six hours because they're Facebooking, it may be time to step in, Dr. Richardson Sachs says.
What about the impact on young eyes? Dr. Daniel Karr, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the Casey Eye Institute, says the main issues are fatigue, prolonged focus and position. Even more reason to break up computer time into short bursts. That breaks the fatigue associated with focusing on a screen just a few inches away, allowing young eyes to relax. Short breaks will also drop the child s risk of developing near-sightedness.
Doctors also recommend children turn away from any screen at least a half hour before bedtime. Studies show screen time limits our body's ability to produce melatonin and can make it tough to get a good night's sleep.
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