Too Much Screen Time?

How Screen Exposure Affects Children

Technology has taken over

Due to the ever-increasing amount of technology in today's society, it seems like no place is truly screen-free. This is especially concerning when the well-being of children is considered. Whether it is a television, a video game system, a cell phone, a tablet, or an e-reader, kids have more opportunities than ever to be engaged with a monitor. In the past, kids played outside without any type of technological distraction. Today, outdoor physical activity is scarce.

Even though it is easy and (seemingly) painless to give a child a tablet to play with, there are consequences that parents must consider. Screen time is not damaging in moderation, but when it is overwhelmingly present in a child's life, there are many issues that arise.

Excessive screen time leads to obesity

Maher, Olds, Eisenmann, & Dollman (2012) found that large amounts of screen time is directly related to rates of childhood obesity (pp. 1170-1174). Surprisingly, screen time had a greater effect on the obesity of children that physical activity did. This should compel parents to encourage their children to decrease their screen time.

Parents must change

In order to do something about the prevalence of children spending too much time in front of a screen, parents must make changes in their own life. Jago, Stamatakis, Gama, et al. (2012) researched the link between a parent's screen time and the screen time of their child (pp. 150-158). Their research found that parents who spend more time in front of a screen will have children who also spend a lot of time with technology. In order for children's screen time to go down, parents must reduce their own monitor time.

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Too much screen time has severe effects!

There are alternatives!!

Exercise is vital for a maturing child. In addition to boosting overall physical health, exercise can, through team sports, provide a child with leadership skills, aid in a child's problem solving abilities, and help improve self-esteem (Burke, 2010, p. 365). Children need physical activity for growth and obesity prevention. Obesity levels are rising because children are spending their time with technology rather than engaging in physical activity with their friends.

Children who are physically inactive generally spend more time in front of a monitor than their physically active peers. Physical inactivity is a result of large amounts of screen time (Sandercock, Ogunleye, & Voss, 2012, pp.977-984). Instead of staying inside, children should be encouraged to exercise and participate in physical activity.

What should be done?

Children should be encouraged to

  • Stay active
  • Have minimal exposure to screens
  • Play outdoors
  • Utilize indoor alternatives (i.e. board games, card games)
  • Read books instead of watch T.V.

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Take Away

Children are influenced by what they are exposed to. If kids spend too much time in front of a screen of any type, they will, according to research, experience many negative effects. A large amount of time in front of a monitor is directly related to high obesity rates and high inactivity rates. In order to combat this issue, parents should encourage their children to engage in other activities that promote physical activity and other healthy behaviors.


Berk, L. A. (2010). Development through the lifespan. Boston, MA: Pearson Education. 364-


Jago, R., Stamatakis, E., Gama, A., Carvalhal, I., Nogueira, H., Rosado, V., & Padez, C. (2012). Parent and child screen-viewing time and home media environment. American Journal Of Preventive Medicine, 43(2), 150-158. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2012.04.012

Maher, C., Olds, T.S., Eisenmann, J.C, & Dollman, J. (2012). Screen time is more strongly

associated than physical activity with overweight and obesity in 9- to 16-year-old

Australians. Acta Paediatrica, 101(11), 1170-1174. doi:10.1111/j.1651-2227.2012.02804.x

Sandercock, G. H., Ogunleye, A., & Voss, C. (2012). Screen time and physical activity in

youth: Thief of time or lifestyle choice? Journal Of Physical Activity & Health, 9(7), 977-