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Two-thirds of U.S. parents of a child under 12 say kids spend too much time in front of screens


Parents in the U.S. worry their children spend too much time using devices, which may negatively impact their health. 

A Pew Research Center report shows that 71% of U.S. parents of kids under 12 are concerned the littles ones use screens extensively and may damage their wellbeing. Parents nowadays find it challenging to care for children, especially if they’re under 12 years old because they tend to isolate themselves inside the house and spend most of their time using smartphones or computers. Among the top reasons why parents find it harder to care for children nowadays are children can easily access technology (14%), social media has taken over all life aspects (21%), and technology impacts daily activities (26%). 

Parenting has never been an easy job, no matter the child’s age. Still, in the age of screens and technology, parents worldwide, and especially those in the USA, find it more difficult than ever because there are so many distractions that take the children away from their path. The families who have an adult child and one younger than 18 years old can compare the two different experiences of caring for a child, and they think it’s harder the second time around, even if they have more tools at hand.

A subject most parents discuss and debate is screen time among children. How can they tell how much is too much? How can they understand the extent to which the use of technology harms their kids? Do screens influence children’s development? To help parents understand how much they should allow their children to use smartphones and computers, the World Health Organization has crafted some guidelines they can follow. 

How much time should your child spend in from of screens?

A question that keeps many parents awake at night. Here are the guidelines the World Health Organization provided for families caring for children under 5 years old. 

– No screen time if the child is under 2 years old

– An hour for kids between 3 and 4 years old

Specialists worry that children spending extended periods using devices with screens can experience health damage. Screen time can negatively influence their areas of cognitive development, motor skills, and language aptitudes. When parents want to keep their children busy or distract them, they should come with better options that offering them a smartphone or tablet. There are healthier alternatives (like engaging with children through play) to keep kids busy and away from screens. For example, parents can install a Panda Indoor Playground to help support their kids’ muscular-skeletal development and enhance their mental and motor skills.

 Many parents find these guidelines challenging to follow because screens are part of every day’s life. But the specialists who provided these recommendations say the restrictions leave room for families to watch T.V. together or use tech devices to engage into educational games. However, parents should focus on finding ways to physically engage their children and keep them away from digital devices. 

The guidelines also provide pieces of advice for the periods of relaxation and physical activity children should have according to their age group. Kids should sleep at least 10 or 13 hours every night to grow healthily.  

Why are parents worried about their children using screens?

Parents with children younger than 12 years old are anxious; they don’t know how screen use influences their children’s health. 31% of them are apprehensive this activity may harm their kids and look for solutions to help their little ones commit to healthier habits. Some of them think the young ones spend too much time using a digital device.

However, the Pew Research Center report also revealed that 39% of parents are very confident they know how to manage their children’s activities. 45% of them are somewhat confident they can determine the appropriate amount of screen use, but they are also asking for help from experts who may have better information. Over half of adults caring for a child younger than 11 years say they researched the screen time their kids should have from reliable resources. They discussed with their doctors or medical professionals who can provide them with recommendations on how to care for their little ones.

A survey conducted in March 2020, using the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel and the Ipsos Knowledge Panel states that 71% of parents think the extended use of smartphones and tablets by children under 12 years can trigger more health issues than benefits. Seven in ten of them believe the little ones can hurt their ability to bond with children their age and develop friendship relations or learn social skills. 54% of the 3,640 people who took part in the survey said they think children perform poorly in school because of digital devices.

But even if they’re aware screens can impact their wellbeing and health, over 60% of parents allow their children to interact with smartphones, tablets, and computers. YouTube is one of the most used platforms among young children, and eight in ten parents with children younger than 11 say their little ones watch videos on YouTube. Why do they encourage children to engage in this activity? Because videos keep them entertained and expose them to different cultures and information. Only 11% of these parents think YouTube and social media channels may expose their children to inappropriate content and verify the videos the little ones watch before allowing them to use devices.

Other interesting findings the study revealed

– The majority of parents don’t think children should get their own smartphones before the age of 12.

– Most parents with children between 5 and 11 years old say they limit the time spent in front of screens and use digital grounding as a common practice to educate their little ones.
– Screen time isn’t the only concern parents have related to the advent of technology in daily life. Over half of them think children are possible targets for online criminals. 

(Syndicated press content is neither written, edited or endorsed by ED Times)

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