Ask the Experts: Screen Time

Ask the Experts: Screen Time

Q: How should I balance screen time and play time with my children?

A: Screen time these days looks quite different than it did when we were growing up, different even than it did ten years ago. It used to mean plopping your kid in front of Sesame Street or Teletubbies while we quickly scramble to do the breakfast dishes or throw a load of laundry in the washer.

No longer is “screen time” a passive activity. With the invention of tablets and thousands of apps, kids of all ages can play interactive games that help them build skills like reading, math, and more. But there are still some concerns about too much screen time with kids.

Once such concern is screen addiction. Some children can become addicted to those tablets and end up playing games, educational or otherwise, instead of doing homework, sleeping, or interacting with friends and family. Another concern is blue light. This spectrum of light emitted by tablets, smart phones, and even televisions, can have a detrimental effect on sleep patterns and eye sight.

So while screen time isn’t as “bad” as it used to be, it’s still important to create boundaries for your kids. Limit the number of hours each day they’re using tablets and limit any screen time for the hour before bedtime.

And don’t forget about play time. “Physical activity reduces children's risk of obesity and diabetes along with improving muscle and bone strength. That's true for adults too!” says Lance Holtry, DO of Marshall Family Medicine in El Dorado Hills. Organized sports can be a great way for kids to get that physical activity, as well as provide important interaction with other children. Learning team work and social skills are other important benefits of sports and play time for kids.

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