Screentime For Children

Is it too much? By Lynnette. W. Lutwama

Screening Time: What is it?

Screen time is one of the biggest issues, for child development that parents, tend to debate about.Screen time is the time a child spends on a certain technology device; this even includes television. By watching too much TV, or playing on devices, very little energy is used during screen time.

Why is it so important?

Scientists have shown that the children of this generation have been known to increase their time spent on devices such as iPad's, laptops, computers etc, rather than spending more time doing physical activity. As children get older, their time spent on technology increases with their age. In the 12 months to prior April 2009 an estimated 2.2 million children ( 79%) aged 5-14 years reported accessing the internet up from 65% in 2006. But over the years, the proportion of children using the internet increased with age as 60% of 5-8 year olds used the internet, increasing 96% of 12-14 year olds.

Some researches found that children under age 6 already have good media skills by themselves by:
74% being able to turn on and off the TV
58% being able use the remote
46% being able put on a video or DVD

Positives and Negatives

When it comes to screen time, parents and researchers do tend to look over only the negatives about this matter. Some negatives can be :

  • Bad Posture> Children can develop bad posture due to slacking while watching TV or being on the computer.

  • Slows Metabolism> When you sitting down for long periods of hours, a children's body adapts to the reduced physical demand and that slows down their metabolism. When metabolism slows, calories are burned and that boosts the chance that extra energy will be stored as fat.

  • Risk of Epilepsy> Watching TV, especially in the dark, can increase children getting seizures by having flashing lights that the TV is showing kids.


  • Cyber bullying> Getting on the internet might cause children getting cyber bullied.

  • Sexual explicit text messages> A child can develop sending sexual messages while being on the internet and seeing explicit pictures young.


  • Too much screen time can cause stress, anxiety and depression.

  • Violence> Some shows or games may contain violence, crime and disasters that can affect a child and cause trauma as growing up.

  • Mental health can be effect their emotional status and the way they feel about things.

As well as having negative impacts on children, screen time can positively:


  • Have TV shows that encourage physical activity
  • Increase fine motor skills (Using computers, DSI's and Ipad's mostly)

  • Socially:
  • Can increase understanding of the world.

  • Teach positive social behaviors> This can give children an open mind on how to be nice and to not judge people regardless of sex, color or what they believe in. This can also increase a child's manners.

  • Social skills> Being on the internet can teach children how to socialise and communicate with others well.

  • Emotionally:
  • Problem solving> Some TV shows and computer games encourage children and teach them how to solve problems that have to do with their feelings.

  • Positive emotion can affect the way a child feels about something and can educate them to be able to speak about how they feel including when they grow up.


To prevent addiction or harmful things happening to children, there are recommendations doctors, researchers and parents have suggested.
Recommendations may include to:
  • Limiting screen time to your children/ the whole family.
  • Offering variety of activities to do with your children.
  • If you still want your children to have their normal screening time session,choosing wisely what they should watch or games they should play is also recommendable.
  • Keep TV's and computers in family spaces and out of children's bedrooms.
  • Turning the TV off before school and dinnertime.
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BUT why is it so hard to stick to these recommendations?

Parents may find it hard to stick to some or ANY recommendations due to:
  • Child might tend to throw tantrums.
  • Might be hard to distract a child, especially when they don't want to do any physical activity at all.
  • Parents might not find any time to spend time with their children so screen time can be a distraction for working.
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What can parents do to overcome this?

It may be hard to overcome saying no to screen time, but here are some strategies that may work:
  • Learn how to keep saying no, as well as giving them an "award" to stop them from causing tantrums.
  • Give some educational value- Reading a book or having an activity book can distract children from wanting to watch TV instead
  • Get them to help you- Cooking? Putting stuff away? Getting children to help is one of the most interesting ways on distracting them from screen time. Get your child to help you put away the dishes (Plastic cups and plates) or get them to mix ingredients.
  • Another way you can overcome saying no to screen time is by occupying them by going outside, this can be getting them to help you even with gardening or by just kicking a ball!