We’re all for screens – after all, Expert Home Tips wouldn’t exist without them – but what is considered too much ‘screen time’ and how do we limit it?

What is screen time?

Screen time is the name given to the amount of time spent in front of any type of screen. Although some screens use is more intense than others, time spent looking at any screen, be it a TV, mobile or iPad, counts towards your total screen time.

Average screen time in the UK

Kids watching screens

It seems there has been no end to the technological developments over recent years, and we’re certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to screens. With laptops, smartphones and most notably for children, tablets, it’s easy to understand how screens can take over.

Figures released by Childwise reveal that:

  • Children aged 5-16 spend an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen.

How many children have a mobile phone?

Six and a half hours may seem like a lot, but it’s easy to fill with so many different devices available:

  • 69% of children use a mobile phone.
  • Half of 8-15-year-olds now have their own tablet.
  • 65% of 12-15-year-olds have three or more devices of their own.

What is ‘too much’ screen time?

Child watching TV

Screens aren’t all bad. They provide our kids with entertainment when we’re rushed off our feet, allow them to socialise with friends, and where mobiles are concerned, can increase safety.

When children no longer seem able to function without electronic devices, however, there’s obviously a problem.

Screens should be an addition to our children’s lives, not their main cause for living.

Groupon predicted that during the 2017 Summer holidays, the average child would watch around 60 movies and play 150 hours of video games.

If there’s one figure that reveals how reliant our kids have become on the virtual world, that’s it.

Why should we limit screen time?

It’s 2017, is there really anything wrong with Mario Kart ruling our children’s lives? There has actually been little research to monitor just what overuse of screens is doing to our health, worrying, when we consider how much time is spent on them.

Despite this, both parents and professionals are concerned about their overuse.

For children, video games pose a particular problem. The over-stimulation of today’s games can be extremely addicting.

This can cause substantial changes in a child’s behaviour:

  • 77% of parents say screen exposure influences their child’s mood.
  • 62% regularly struggle to get their children to put down their device.

Tantrums are just the beginning of the problems linked to too much screen time. The screens themselves (notably the blue light emitted by the super-sharp display) can actually prevent melatonin, an important sleep hormone, from being released, leading to sleep impairments.

How to reduce screen time

Studies also suggest that the overstimulation provided by online games could lead to problems in later life, particularly with focus, memory and impulsivity. Scientists fear we are breeding a generation of hyperactive infants.

We spoke to Erin Gallagher, MA, BACP reg. Psychotherapist to get her thoughts on the topic.

“The problem with films and games is that they rely on the imagination and work of someone else.

If kids are overly exposed to these, they will never get the chance to understand what they, personally, think and feel about things, because it’s being fed to them.

I like to quote Lemmy from Motorhead occasionally and this has always stayed with me ‘Reading’s the only thing that allows you to use your imagination. When you watch films it’s someone else’s vision, isn’t it?'”

Read more: https://experthometips.com/screen-time-reduce-tips-professionals-consequences