TV or Tablet: Which is Better Screen Time?

Be it for a much needed break during the day or something to occupy a child while a parent works from home, many hard working parents are relying on screen time these days. This leaves many of us wondering about the quality of screen time our children are consuming and the delivery of the screen time, typically TV or tablet.

Some parents will say that tablet time is more interactive and, with all the quality educational apps, preferable over TV. Other parents maintain that tablets have an added element of addictiveness because of the interactive features.

Who is right?

When you feel like it’s time to lean on a little screen time during the day, which should you chose; TV or tablet?

TV or Tablet: Which is Better Screen Time?

When weighing TV time vs tablet time, there are a few things to consider. Addictiveness, screen safety, and physical considerations sit front and center of this debate.

TV vs tablet: Which is more addictive?

Screens are addictive. Devices and the content they deliver are designed this way.

Screen time triggers a release of dopamine and adrenaline a child’s body. These are powerful hormones; the same one released during drug use or after a bite of delicious creme brulee.

(The hormones that keep people coming back for more.)

While TV and tablets both trigger these hormones, television has the “drawback” of forcing a child to wait for the next exciting thing to happen. Tablets give children the next exciting thing the second they want it.

Also, tablets are portable. Unless rules are in place on where your child’s tablet viewing can take place, there really isn’t anywhere the instant gratification of screen time can’t happen.

Many parents are not aware of why screen media is designed to be so addictive. Knowing the incentives for the production of addictive media is important to understanding why we should choose the amount, and the delivery, of a child’s screen time wisely.

So, why don’t more media companies invest in producing less addictive media? What’s the incentive for getting children addicted to screens?

Well, TV shows make their money through advertisements, sometimes between shows and sometimes within shows via product placement or character advertisement. They want you to want to keep watching so their advertisers will continue to fund their shows.

Content delivered via tablet works similarly, but the content creators monetize their products using a wider variety of methods. Product placement, advertisements, app and channel subscriptions, and branding are all ways content delivery is monetized, incentivizing getting your child to want to watch more.

Essentially, it’s important to know that people are making money off your child’s screen time. The more addictive the content, the more money someone is making.

TV and tablet content can sometimes be viewed across devices, however content on the TV is typically a bit more limited or at least a lot more difficult to access than on a tablet. This is especially true for younger children.

TV vs tablet: Safety considerations

Most everything we view this day in age is streamed over the internet, be it a streaming service or direct internet. This puts our children at risk for many dangers, including exposure to inappropriate and disturbing content, as well as engaging with people who mean to cause them harm.

This content is a potential threat no matter the device. Televisions, however, are stationary and are typically kept in a main living area. This allows parents to easier monitor what their child is viewing.

Physical considerations

Physical considerations when deciding between TV and tablet time are important, but often get left out of the conversation. Children are more likely to use a healthy posture while watching TV, than when interacting with a tablet.

Tablets, even with screen-tilt cases, prompt children to move their heads forward and downward. This puts extra stress on a child’s neck muscles, causing discomfort and even carrying the potential for temporary or permanent posture changes.

Research shows non touch-interactive screen use is preferable for spine health.

In summary, portable interactive devices are decidedly more addictive, less safe, and harder on a child’s body than TV.

These are great reason to flip on the tube rather than reach for the tablet when it’s time for some screens. You are probable reading this article because you want an answer on which is better screen time, TV or tablet.

The answer is TV.

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