Are Screens Bad?

Is screen time for kids bad, or is it just the boogyman of the 21st century?


As our teenagers become slaves to thier smart phones and video games and our younger children whine and beg for a tablet or TV show, we’ve got to wonder; is screen time for kids bad?

Every parent wants to do what’s best for their children, but not everyone agrees on what’s “best”. I think we can all agree, though, that there are areas in our parenting that can use a little tweaking.

For many parents screen-time is that area.

While there are recommendations on how much screen-time kids should be exposed to at different ages, many parents disregard these bits of advice. There are lots of parents, probably the majority, who don’t see a problem in a world with unlimited TV, tablet, and video games.

These parents often see screen-free or screen-limited families as freaks and outliers; conspiracy theorists who live an alternative lifestyle.

Because, well, “We grew up watching TV and we turned out just fine.” Ok. Maybe.

The thing is, research. And there is a lot of it.

a child staring at a tv

Kids and screen time: then and now

Here is where the “We watched TV growing up and we turned out just fine.” argument loses steam.

When we were growing up, we didn’t have smart phones or tablets. We had to wait for our favorite shows to come on.

Kids today get everything on demand via these hand held devices and through streaming services like Netflix.

Apart from the occasional Christmas or Halloween movie marathon, the option to binge watch just wasn’t available to us. when we were growing up.

There is just no comparison. The screen time options kids have nowadays is much different.

And it’s hurting them. Obesity, lack of social interaction, and a decline in creativity and motor skills are just some examples of the damage too much screen time can cause.

The evidence

For those unfamiliar with the recommendations from the WHO and the AAP, here you go:

screen time recommendations for kids

Of course, these are just screen time guidlines, but these public health organizations didn’t just pull them out of thin air. They are evidence-based.

It’s likely your child’s screen viewing exceeds these recommendations. A caveat to these screen time guidlines is that, if your child is exposed to this amount of screen time, or more, it is benifit for you to choose wisely about the content they view, and when possiible, to view it with them.

Quality programming does exist, so if you simply can’t sit and wat TV with your children, don’t be too worried. Modern parents often don’t have the luxury of limiting screen time or watching TV with their children.

a family enjoying tv together, enjoying screen time with kids

In closing, no, screens aren’t the boogyman of this century, nor are they inherently bad. In fact, there is lots of wonderful programming out there and relaxing in front of a show here and there isn’t going to cause irreparable harm to your kids.

It’s just something to think about.

With Love, Maryanne!

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12 thoughts on “Are Screens Bad?”

  1. I agree that screen time isn’t inherently bad. I think instead of thinking about how to limit screen time, it’s kind of easier to think of how to add in OTHER activities as alternatives. Playing outside, doing crafts, going for family walks, etc… whatever your family does (or can start doing) that doesn’t depend on screens. Not only does it help families engage more with each other, it also takes away the negative feeling of something being “limited”. Thanks for sharing your article — it’s a very relevant conversation for parents/families to be having these days!

  2. I do think it can be damaging for all of the reasons you listed above and it really shows in some children. We limit our children’s time with the TV and tablets, if they’ve spent too much time with screens during the day we will tell them they need to find something to do that will stimulate their minds (reading, legos,etc) anything non TV/Tablet.

  3. When we were children our parents would just send us out to play. These days, I believe that parents are too overprotective and don’t let their children play outside without supervising them. And this is where the screen comes in.

  4. Nothing is really bad, but its us as humans that need to figure out how to balance our use of it. We tend to get carried away, and all we need is a little bit of tough love to get back on track! I actually grew up watching TV, but from the past 4-5 years have becoming intolerant to it – it gives me a headache!

  5. Great article. I am really trying hard to limit tv time for my daughter who is two so I now limit my screen time alot too so she can see an example. We do more ofd screen activities now.

  6. It’s definitely becoming more of a problem. This is why they have screen limiting apps on phones but yes for children it’s definitely good to limit it.

  7. Sometimes we spent too much time in front a screen, tv, phones or tablet. Over the week end I prefer to stay out and, in the evening, play some tabletop game with my family instead turn on the tv.

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