According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (2013), it is recommended that parents limit children and teens’ entertainment screen time to no more than two hours daily, stating that an increase in screen time has been linked with eye problems, violence, cyberbullying, obesity, lack of sleep, and academic decline. They quickly note that this is not a significant cause of these problems, and this information should be balanced with educating your kids about these factors. Despite this, I find this to be a gross generalization. Studies have shown that culture and class affect the amount and the type of technology children are exposed to (some are good, and some are not). Benefit from technology is greatly affected by family context (Konca, 2021).
Fraser Health, the leading health authority in B.C. Canada makes a similar recommendation of 2 hours a day (Screen Time for Children, n.d.), stating that parents should instead “Choose activities such as playing outdoors, reading or crafting over screens.” However, e-readers and tablets offer the storage of thousands of books, and web-enabled devices can give extra information on books at your fingertips. Or is reading not considered entertainment? What if I enjoy reading? Also, who does crafts without the use of a tablet? Do you have craft ideas off the top of your head?
Personally, I do not limit screen times for my six-year old son, Jacob. There are days that he spends seven hours in front of a screen, and there are days that he spends less than an hour. The important thing is that he is learning something from the experience. Screen time can be used to develop digital, creative, problem-solving, communication, social, and goal-setting skills (Using Screen Time and Digital Technology for Learning: Children and Pre-Teens, n.d.). Currently, Jacob primarily plays two games: Geometry Dash and Mario Maker. On the surface, both games provide no educational value. The former even contains many elements, such as photosensitivity and loud music, that have been known to cause seizures in players (Millichap, 1994). I have found that these games provide benefits from every category listed above, teaching children to collaborate on building levels and giving feedback to peers. Besides learning online etiquette, reading, and typing skills, Jacob has gained extensive practical knowledge about game mechanics like angle rotations, alpha transparencies, z-index, collisions, conditional structures, and counters. Some of these concepts I am teaching to my university students.
So to all health authorities: I agree with your other recommendations. Please consider deleting or altering the gross generalization of time limitations (or at least clarify it further). Otherwise, each time Jacob plays a game, I will need to set a timer on my phone, which will cut into my two hours of screen time.
Konca, A. S. (2021). Digital Technology Usage of Young Children: Screen Time and Families. Early Childhood Education Journal. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-021-01245-7
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2013). Children, Adolescents, and the Media. PEDIATRICS, 132(5), 958–961. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2013-2656
Screen time for children. (n.d.). Fraser Health. Retrieved January 22, 2023, from https://www.fraserhealth.ca/health-topics-a-to-z/children-and-youth/physical-activity-for-children/screen-time-for-children#.Y8zGYezMJqs
Using screen time and digital technology for learning: children and pre-teens. (n.d.). Raising Children Network. Retrieved January 22, 2023, from https://raisingchildren.net.au/school-age/school-learning/learning-ideas/screen-time-helps-children-learn#:~:text=Screen%20time%20can%20help%20children
Millichap, J. G. (1994). Video Game-Induced Seizures. Pediatric NeurologyBriefs, 8(9), 68. https://doi.org/10.15844/pedneurbriefs-8-9-5