Are there any negative effects from an increased time in front of the screen?
Most parents are familiar with the following problem: Your child sits on the computer or on his smartphone every day and the request to take a break or to reduce the use meets with bitter resistance. Researchers are now investigating whether the long time in front of the screen can really lead to negative health effects.
For years, scientists at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have recommended that children and teenagers should spend a maximum of two hours a day in front of the screen. Increased use could lead to obesity, sleep deprivation and depression. The doctors at Stetson University in Florida published the results of their current study on this topic in the journal "Psychiatry Quarterly".
Smartphones and tablets lead to discussions among many families
The time spent by children and teenagers in front of the screen can have negative effects on the psyche and general health, some doctors suspect. Above all, tablets and smartphones that can be used under the covers have become a problem in many families. But how much time should children spend in front of the screen?
Medical professionals are looking for the effects of high screen time
The current study analyzed the data from 6,089 adolescents. The researchers recorded and investigated the time in front of the screen, sleeping times, grades in school, family eating habits, depression and physical activity. So-called risky behavior by teenagers (fights, gun possession, unprotected sex, alcohol or drug use) also seemed to be associated with an increased time in front of the screen.
Not much of a danger from being screened up to six hours a day
The researchers found that up to six hours a day in front of a screen did not have any serious negative effects. The original recommendation of the AAP (maximum two hours of screen time) was therefore rightly canceled for over 5 year olds, explains the author Christopher J. Ferguson. A time in front of the screen of up to about six hours is fairly normal today and is associated with no or only very minor negative effects. Screens are involved in many aspects of our lives, and the whole concept of so-called screen time has changed a lot over the past twenty years, the expert adds.
Facts count and not guesswork
The recommended screen time must be based on evidence, not on speculation, the researchers emphasize. The debate about a recommended screen time is necessary, but more precise facts and insights are needed. If we look back at history, there have always been any activities or events that are said to harm young people and teenagers. Even in Elvis Presley's time, adults thought that this kind of music would harm teenagers - or even make them obsessed. The situation was similar with comics, Harry Potter, rock music in the 1980s and a game called Dungeon & Dragons, explains Ferguson.
Most teenagers are not adversely affected by screen time
As long as children perform well at school and get enough sleep and physical activity, the time spent in front of the screen has no profound effect on most of these adolescents, explains Ferguson. A recently published study on violent media consumption, fears and depression also found no evidence of a connection.
Talk to your kids about the risks of social media
As a parent, you shouldn't just insist that your child stop staring at the screen an hour before bed, keep smartphones and tablets out of the bedroom, and do enough physical activity and exercise. It is also very important to discuss the general risks of social media, the scientists recommend. (as)