Screens and Other Health Issues for Kids

In this recent article, the always-controversial subject of kids spending time in front of screens is addressed. This is one of those topics that I find has instant responses from either side of the issue, so I tried to approach it with an open mind. I ended up surprised at what actually caught my attention.

In the title of the article itself, the claim is made that the study links the restriction of screen time for kids to higher mental performance. Then the article goes on to say that they looked at three areas of health for the kids they studies: Physical activity, time spent on screens, and amount of sleep. At that point, the article states that only 5% of the 4,500 kids ages 8-11 met the guidelines they use for adequate physical activity, time on screens, and sleep.

Wait…hold on a minute. Those are three really important things. And only 5% of the study group met the guidelines?! Specifically, they were looking for kids who got at least an hour of physical activity per day, spent no more than 2 hours a day on screens, and slept between 9 and 11 hours nightly. I ended up coming back to this piece of the article even after I’d finished reading the whole report. Not to discount the study — yes, it is interesting that they found that the kids who spent 2 hours or less a day on screens performed better on the mental performance tests. They also mention that as with any study, an association can’t be translated to mean that a cause has been established. However, I’m still stuck on the three areas. Wow.

I do understand how important it is for parents to look at how screens can be used in the healthiest way for each individual kiddo. Anyone who knows me well knows that. I am a big fan of putting in-person interactions ahead in importance of technology for all humans regardless of their ages, which is why I went phone-free almost three years ago.

What really stands out for me though, is that I’d like for us to start thinking about people’s health as a whole package. These things are ALL important. It isn’t that screens are more important than the rest. Of course some might argue that if it’s overwhelming to tackle this many areas at once, maybe a family could look at just one. I can get behind this idea. Screens first, followed by sleep, followed by movement? Or maybe if you address one area then the others will follow naturally?

What do you think? Comment below and weigh in. There is no one right answer here, and I’d love to have some discussion from different perspectives.

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