Screen free week begins next week (May 2nd – May 8th). Screen free week is when families across the world reduce and limit the amount of time that children spend looking at screens such as TVs, computers, phones, tablets, etc. Devices are still permitted for school and work. The amount of time spent on digital devices has increased tremendously in the recent years. Research has shown that excessive screen time is linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity, and attention problems.
There has been a lot of recent research that has shown that too much screen time in children can have negative effects. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stated in 2011 that both foreground and background media have potentially negative effects and no known positive effects for children younger than 2 years old. They found that children under 2 who watch heavy amounts of television and videos have been found to have a significantly higher chance of having a language delay. They have also found that using television as part of the bedtime routine can be detrimental to a child’s sleep. Although parents perceive a televised program to be a calming sleep aid, some programs actually increase bedtime resistance, delay the onset of sleep, cause anxiety about falling asleep, and shorten sleep duration.
The use of screens and the effect they have on children is something that is constantly being researched. Screen free week is a way to raise awareness about the effects screens have on kids, and a way to encourage kids to have a more active lifestyle. Here is the link to the screen free website (http://www.screenfree.org/). This website will help explain more about what screen free week is, the dangers of increased screen time, and some fun activities that kids can do. This link is for the article from the AAP that is mentioned above (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/5/1040.long).
Don’t forget to ask your therapist how you can sign up for screen free week and win some fun prizes!!!
-Matthew D’Antonio, PT, DPT
Pediatric Physical Therapist