Children spend more time sitting in front of electronic screens (screen time) than in any other activity besides sleeping. This means they spend more time in front of screens than they do in school. The average time spent with various media (television, computer, video games) is more than five hours per day. Even the very youngest children, preschoolers ages 6 and younger, spend as much time with screen media (TVs, video games, and computers) as they do playing outside. That means several hours of inactivity and, in the case of television viewing, hours of exposure to advertising for high-fat, high-calorie foods. Many of these ads are aimed directly at children. Too much screen time affects children’s brains and bodies.
Children who spend a great deal of time in front of a screen have less time for playing and talking with other children and adults. Language skills are best developed through reading and conversation. Excessive screen time can interfere with growth in this area. Children who watch less television do better in school and perform better on standardized tests.
Perhaps most alarming is the effect of too much screen time on children’s bodies. Most children do not get the recommended amount of physical activity each day, and one reason for this is the number of hours spent inactive in front of a screen. There is a link between overweight in children and television viewing. Children who watch more TV tend to be heavier than children who watch less TV. Children who live in families in which television viewing is a normal part of the meal routine eat fewer fruits and vegetables and more pizzas, snack foods, and sodas.
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