How Screen Time Affects Behavior in Kids

How Screen Time Affects Behavior in Kids

A common reason parents and caregivers decide to give limiting screen time a try is they are concerned about how screen time affects behavior.

This is a valid concern.

I am not one to compare the ingestion of screen time to drugs, however watching and interacting with screens does cause a chemical reaction in a child’s brain. This is why some will make that comparison.

The release of dopamine and adrenaline are responsible for many of the behavior changes you might be observing in your child following exposure to screens. These changes, coupled with the suppression of melatonin from the bright lights these devices emit, can also cause sleep disturbances.

These sleep disturbances only add to the behavior changes brought on directly by screen time.

In addition to the excitement and sleep changes screen time can cause, it also gives kids a pleasurable feeling. This makes it hard to turn off the TV when it’s time and it also causes kids to whine for more screen time.

Content of the programming has been shown to make a difference in a child’s behavior, as well. Aggressive characters can cause children to act aggressively when the show has been turned off, and so on.

In addition to everything stated already, screen time, even if only in the background can have an impact on the conversation and bonding between a child and their caregiver. This alone can cause children to act out.


Some of the behavior changes to look out for that could be caused by screen time:

  • hyperactivity
  • inattentiveness
  • impulsivity
  • aggression
  • whining

In short, if you are concerned that your child’s behavior is linked to screen time the best thing you can do is run an experiment.

Limit your child’s screen time or cut it out entirely for a period of time. If you notice a positive change, you have your answer and your solution.

Can screen time cause autism?

The belief that screen time causes autism is becoming more common, no thanks to social media. There is a chance you may have heard it before.

Research was recently conducted in an effort to discover a link between autism and screen time.

While the research did come up with a link between screen exposure under 12 months of age and spectrum-like behaviors in toddlers, there was no link found in screen time exposure in the 12-18 month age group and autism behaviors in older toddlers.

Information used in the study was taken by survey only. No scientific observation took place.

This research has been absolutely slammed by the scientific community. Perpetuation of this faulty study as fact, causes harm to autistic people and other people with a personal connection to autism.

The scientific consensus is that screen time does not cause autism.


It would be great to get some feedback on the post or in my inbox about how screen time affects behavior in your child and the positive changes you have seen after cutting it out!

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