Roanoke Valley doctor, parent discuss effects of too much screen time for children

Health

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, parents are worrying their kids are spending too much time in front of screens.

Physicians in southwest Virginia say children are experiencing more screen time because most are learning remotely and forced to stay home, so it’s easy for them to pick up a device during the pandemic.

Doctors say too much screen time does have an effect on children.

For example, light from screens can play a major role in children sleeping patterns, so doctors suggest a rule against screen time before bed to give the brain time to calm down.

In addition, according to physicians, too much screen time is affecting children’s social skills, which is why it’s important for parents to help guide them to have healthy screen habits.

“In the world of a pandemic, it’s not a perfect world, but for the younger kids, one modality for the younger kids in terms of screen time is maybe with FaceTime or video,” said Dr. Christopher Pierce with Carilion Children’s. “You can video chat with grandma. Using technology more positively, and that becomes an interactive skill.”

Doctors also suggest setting guidelines when it comes to screen time.

  • Screen time should not be allowed during family meals and outings.
  • Screen time for toddlers between 18 and 24 months should be limited to educational programming.
  • Screen time for children between two- and five-years-old should be no more than one hour per weekday and no more than three hours on the weekend.
  • Doctors encourage healthy habits and limited activities involving screens for children 6 years and older.

According to doctors, children are watching and mimicking their parents’ screen habits.

“It’s not easy to be a parent right now,” said parent Lauren Wood. “It’s not easy being anything right now, and no matter what you do, whether you let your kid have screen time or not, you are doing the best that you can and that’s what’s important.”

Wood says she goes the extra mile to promote healthy screen time habits, which include prohibiting screens an hour before bed and encouraging her daughter to use her imagination and get out to play.

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