“Parents can help their children by remembering TEAM: talk to your child about online safety, explore their online world together, agree what’s OK and what’s not, manage privacy settings and controls.”

The findings showed that US children spend an average of 3.6 hours a day engaged in recreational screen time. Limited screen time and improved sleep were related to the strongest links to enhanced cognition, while physical activity may be more significant for physical health.

  • Do your research and find out what apps, television shows, movies, e-books, etc., have high-quality programming and material.
  • Choose something that is developmentally appropriate for your child’s age.
  • Teach your child about Internet safety and cyberbullying.
  • Explain commercials to your children through conversations about money and happiness.
  • Consider the types of screen time for your children. For example, instead of an hour of TV, opt for an educational app that is backed up by research.

The time children spend staring at screens is a constant source of worry for parents, amid fears that smartphones and computers can damage mental and physical health.

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a person on a bed: New research has revealed some of the lifestyle factors that may be affecting children and teen's sleep. © Provided by AFPRelaxNews New research has revealed some of the lifestyle factors that may be affecting children and teen's sleep. A new study has found that children and teens may be missing out on sleep due to a combination of unhealthy foods, not enough exercise, and too much screen time.

Lead researcher Jeremy Walsh said, “These are landmark findings. We’ve set a clear two hour benchmark here and it shows clear cognitive benefit is associated with keeping within that limit. I think parents should now be looking closely at screen time and this suggests it should be limited to two hours a day.”

In North America, children spend about 3 hours a day watching television and another 2-4 hours on other screens such as computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. That’s a total of 5-7 hours per day engrossed in screens!Strasburger VC, Jordan, AB, Donnerstein E. Health Effects of Media on Children and Adolescents. Pediatrics. 2010;125(4):756-767.https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/pages/media-and-children.aspx2009-11 CHMS, Statistics Canada. Read more in the Active Healthy Kids Canada 2013 Report Card (pages 32 – 36). Children between 3-5 years of age spend approximately 2 hours per day in front of screens.Active Healthy Kids Canada, 2014. Report on physical activity: Is Canada in the running? 10th edn.:43 In the US, rates of mobile use among 2- to 4-year-olds increased from 39 percent to 80 percent between 2011 and 2013 and children between 8 months and 8 years of age are exposed to nearly 4 hours of background TV daily.(5) Common Sense Media. Zero to eight: Children’s media use in America 2013; A Common Sense research studyLapierre MA, Piotrowski JT, Linebarger DL. Background television in the homes of U.S. children. Pediatrics 2012;130(5):839-46. Children in Canada are supposed to be getting at least 60 minutes of daily moderate physical activity. Despite these recommendations, only 9 percent of 5- to 17-year-olds are meeting that target.(7) Statistics Canada. Directly measured physical activity of Canadian adults, 2007 to 2011. Ottawa: Statistics Canada; 2013.

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The team also measured the children's physical fitness levels and recorded their height, weight, and waist circumference and body mass index (BMI).

These facts are alarming, especially for children between 0 and 5 years of age. With increased media use, time is taken away from beneficial activities that promote a healthy lifestyle. Children are not experiencing social interaction and engagement with family and friends, have less sleep at night, and are not spending time engaged in outdoor play.

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Instead, they offer eight basic tips for balancing screen use with healthy living:

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[…] well-being. Millions of us in the UK are hunched over a screen for eight hours plus each day. Even teens and kids spend more time than ever before using […]

Finding Ways to Stay Active

Parental control apps can help by allowing you to schedule alerts and time limits to remind your child to stretch or take a break from their device. To find out how parental control software can work for your family, try it for free.

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  • For children under 2 years, screen time is not recommended.
  • For children 2-5 years, limit screen time to 1 hour per day of high quality and educational programming.
  • Do not make screen time a part of child care or supervision for children under 5 years of age.
  • Parents should watch television with children 2-5 years to support them in understanding what they are viewing.
  • For children 6 and older, limit screen time consistently and monitor the types of media they are exposed to.
  • Find the balance between screen time and behaviors that are important to health (sleep, physical activity, social engagement).

If children are happy and content using screens and parents receive a bit of a break, then what’s the issue? The issue is that with too much exposure to screens, children are not getting enough time to play, learn, interact with others, or sleep. The decrease in these important areas leads to impediments and negative risks to children’s development and health. Here are some ways in which too much screen time and a lack of healthy activities impact children:

Media and Children Communication Toolkit

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep nine to 12 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health, while teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep eight to 10 hours.

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A research published by Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, involved children between eight and 11. The discovered that children with more amounts of recreational screen time of phones or video games had way more worse cognitive skills across various functions.

Making some changes to the way your child uses their mobile devices can help decrease their risk of developing poor posture and the problems that go along with it. Avoid allowing your child to use their tablet or phone on the bed or while laying on the couch. Instead, have them sit up straight. Invest in a holder for the device that allows your child to use it without hunching over. Be a good example and model the behaviors you want to see in your children.

Poverty And Screen Time

We’re all trying to get off our screens, taking hiatuses from social media and deleting accounts. Cafes (obnoxiously) advise us: “There is no wifi! Talk to each other!” There is even a growing cottage industry of literature on the topic. Books such as the hugely popular Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, How to Break Up With Your Phone, and You Are Not a Gadget warn us about all the ways connectivity is damaging us. Reports began to emerge last year of how Silicon Valley technologists are banning screens from their own homes. The New York Times says a “dark consensus” is beginning to emerge. An ex-Facebook employee told the paper that he is “convinced the devil lives in our phones and is wreaking havoc on our children”.

"Insufficient sleep duration among children constitutes an understated health problem in Westernized societies," Sidossis said. "Taking into consideration these epidemiologic findings, parents, teachers and health professionals should promote strategies emphasizing healthy sleeping patterns for school-aged children in terms of quality and duration."

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One day, as I was trying discreetly to read a book under the dinner table, my parents snapped. Unnerved by my addiction and how unsociable it made me, they banned me from reading at home and ordered that I collect all the books I had hoarded from the library and return them. I remember fishing them out of different nooks and crannies I had cultivated around the house and piling them up, with a growing terror of the impending boredom once they were gone.

We know that screen time has a significant impact on today’s children. However, parents can follow these simple tips to ensure the most appropriate exposure to screens that will provide optimal outcomes for their children:

Books liberated me from a narrow world when I was young. Phones and laptops do the same job today

This “does not mean that there is no effect”, they add, so “it is still wise to take a precautionary approach”.

Nesrine Malik is a Guardian columnist

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My parents’ actions seem cruel when retold, but they saw my reading habits as an extreme diversion from what they considered normal. By that, I assume they meant communal family interaction and, in its absence, literally staring into space. This was how they grew up, with little literature and no electricity, counting stars to fall asleep. It should be a good and welcome thing that I had, and today’s children have, many other possibilities.

When children spend an extended amount of time in these positions, they can start to experience pain. Researchers have noted that doctors are seeing an increase in children coming in for treatments for back and neck pain, and that increase seems to correlate with the increase in mobile device use. What’s more, poor posture tends to breed more poor posture. In other words, if your child is slouching or hunching over a device, they may also be doing it when they’re sitting in class or at the dinner table. Poor posture can quickly become a habit.

What amount of screen time is appropriate for children? How do you know how much screen time to allow and what to limit? Here are some recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Paediatric Society:

What are Mobile Devices Doing to Your Child’s Back?