Understanding the Effects and Alternatives of Screen Time for Children

Understanding the Effects and Alternatives of Screen Time for Children


In recent years, there has been a growing concern about the amount of time that children spend in front of screens, whether it be watching TV, playing video games, or using smartphones and tablets. There has been a significant amount of research conducted on the effects of screen time on children. Here are some key findings from recent studies: 

  1. Screen time can lead to obesity: A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that increasing screen media time results in more BMI gain in children.
  2. Screen time can interfere with sleep: A study published in Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America shows the extent of screen time among children and adolescents are associated with delayed bedtime and shorter total sleep time.
  3. Screen time can affect brain development: A study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that excessive screen time has been associated with various negative outcomes, including cognitive delays and poorer academic performance.
  4. Screen time can affect social development: A study published in BMC Public Health showed that children with more than one hour of daily screen time were more likely to be vulnerable in social competence.
  5. Screen time can affect academic performance: A study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that more than 2 hours per day of television viewing has been associated with lower academic performance in children and adolescents.

While these findings suggest that screen time can have negative effects on children's health and development, it's important to remember that some screen time is okay and that every family will have different ideas about how much is appropriate. Parents should aim to find a balance that works for their family and encourage their children to engage in a variety of healthy activities both on and off screens. 

Here are some alternatives to screen time that parents can encourage their children to participate in: 

1. Outdoor activities

Spending time outside is a great way for children to get exercise, fresh air, and Vitamin D. Whether it's playing sports, going for a hike, or simply running around in the backyard, outdoor activities can help children stay active and engaged with the natural world.

2. Creative play

Art projects, crafts, and imaginative play can all be great alternatives to screen time. Encouraging children to use their imaginations and express themselves creatively can help build their confidence and creativity.

3. Reading

Reading is an excellent way to expand children's minds, improve their vocabulary, and cultivate a love of learning. Whether it's reading together as a family or encouraging children to read on their own, books can provide a healthy and stimulating alternative to screens.

The book 'A Parent's Promise' is designed to be read together by parents and children. It is a great way for parents to spend quality time with their children while also engaging in a screen-free activity.

4. Socializing

Spending time with friends and family is an important part of a child's social development. Whether it's having playdates, participating in group activities, or simply spending time with siblings, encouraging children to socialize can help them build important social skills and reduce their reliance on screens for entertainment.

5. Finding Hobbies

Whether it's playing a musical instrument, learning a new language, or building model airplanes, hobbies can provide a healthy outlet for creativity and help children stay engaged with the world around them.

By encouraging children to engage in these types of activities, parents can help promote healthy development and reduce their children's reliance on screens. By finding a balance and encouraging children to participate in a variety of healthy activities, parents can help their children grow into well-rounded and healthy individuals.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5769928/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5839336/
  3. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2722666
  4. https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-022-12701-3
  5. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2751330
  6. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2800776?guestAccessKey=54cd7688-b1f5-45f9-9c18-fb18a253b2dd&utm_source=For_The_Media&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=ftm_links&utm_content=tfl&utm_term=013023
  7. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/12-healthier-alternatives-to-screen-time-when-kids-are-stuck-at-home-with-no-school/
  8. https://thenourishedchild.com/alternatives-to-screen-time/
  9. https://haymarketca.com/screen-time-alternatives-for-kids/ 
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