Does Less Screen Time Mean A Healthier Mind And Body?

Last Update on February 16, 2024 : Published on February 16, 2024

As a parent, guardian, or elder, you are not doing anything wrong if you argue with your child about spending time in front of their phone, tablet, or TV. When enough time is spent watching digital content, brain functioning, and relationships take a toll.

Conversely, when this time is spent with family or watching educational or informational programs, it positively impacts cognitive function. Therefore, it is recommended that you cut down on screen time. 

To prove this, different studies have been conducted. According to the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, people who watch for less than two hours per day are cognitively active compared to those who spend more than four hours daily. Another study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that middle-aged adults who watched more than 3.5 hours of TV daily had a higher risk of cognitive decline over 10 years.

These findings make creating a balance between screen time and spending time outdoors important. 

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s learn more about the impact of TV on cognitive decline and dementia.

How Increased Screen Time Is Harmful?

These days, no one has time for anyone. There is no family time, and when they feel lonely or ignored, children turn to TV, tablets, and other devices for company. 

This practice for a while is okay, but when children spend almost two hours and more daily with the screen, the chances of them becoming dependent on technology and using it as an emotional crutch to deal with their emotions, sadness, boredom, etc., increases. Also, they start facing sleep issues; their grades are affected, and the risk of gaining weight increases. 

Not only this, a study performed on teens shows teens who spend seven or more hours per day on their screens are more likely to be depressed or face other mental health issues than those whose screen time is for an hour or less.

Furthermore, as they grow up, their screen time increases, and their exposure to educational media and enriching programs decreases, which impacts cognitive development and increases the chances of being anxious. 

How does screen time cause cognitive impairment?

A study on 500,000 individuals in the United Kingdom over five years showed that more television viewing time means worse cognitive function. Though the study relied on self-reported television viewing time, and there was no control over the factors contributing to cognitive declines, the findings suggest that reducing television viewing time benefited cognitive development. 

The finding is factual because the more time we spend watching television or with devices, the less social we become. Also, when our body wants us to sleep, we want to finish one episode before we sleep, and this goes on. All this impacts our comprehension, behavior, cognition, and brain activity. 

Benefits of Reducing Screen Time

Parents need to limit screen time if they want their children to grow and be smart. 

  • One hour per day for children ages 2 to 5 years
  • No screen time for infants and younger children up to 18 months. 
  • This will help toddlers and preschoolers spend more time developing essential skills. 
  • Children will have more time to develop communication skills, exercise, and get enough rest.
  • There will be time to discuss the topics they studied or watched during the allowed time. 
  • Sleep quality will be better, body mass index (BMI) might decrease as there will be physical activity, and there will be an improvement in academic performance and social behavior.

Strategies for Setting Screen Limits

1. Set Time Limits—and Stick to It

As a reward for finishing homework, allow them one hour of TV or let them use social media for 30 minutes daily. Using parental control tools, restrict the child’s access to specific programs and platforms at certain times.

2. No Screens in Your Child’s Room

Do not allow screens in your child’s bedroom. Studies have shown that children with access to mobile devices and televisions in their bedrooms spend more time online and sleep less than those without. Blue light emissions from screens can also affect children’s sleep-wake cycles. Consider having your child charge their devices outside their bedroom at night.

3. Be aware of the content your child is viewing.

When watching and discussing content with their children, parents should critically analyze themes and discuss the meaning and impact of what they see. Additionally, limit children’s exposure to violent content as it can lead to behavioral issues and aggression in children.

4. Be realistic

If your kids spend too much time with the screen rather than jumping to one to two hours or less per day, recommendations set smaller, more attainable goals. 

5. Be engaged

Another way to decrease screen time is to spend time with your children. Being a parent, you should talk face-to-face with kids and give them your full attention. This will make them feel valued and like interacting with you more than watching TV. 

6. Go outside

Most parents spend their day on the phone looking at these habits, and children think spending time with the screen is fine. This makes breaking the pattern important. The easiest way is to engage in outdoor activities like walking or playing outside. This will not only positively impact the overall well-being but will also help enhance mood. So, take a break from your phone and spend time outdoors with your kids.

7. Be Interactive

It’s crucial to explain to children the importance of staying active. Spending up to two hours per day on screens for school and work is fine, but children under two should not be allowed screen time. Also, TV, tablet, phone, etc., shouldn’t be used as a reward or punishment, as this will make seeing it more significant. 

8. Keep track of Screen And Active Time

To identify if screen time is more than active time, keep track of the time you spend with family and what they spend in front of the TV. If the screen time is too much, make necessary changes in your household and ensure the time spent with family, in physical activities, and moving around is more than the screen time. 

9. Stay Active During Screen Time

When spending time in front of the screen, encourage everyone to do something active, like stretching, practicing yoga poses, walking on a treadmill, or lifting weights—Challenge family members to do some puzzle-solving during commercial breaks.

10. Understand TV Advertisements

Television advertisements for snack foods, candy, soda, and fast food can affect everyone, especially children. Teach children that just because they see it on TV or their favorite characters consume it doesn’t mean it’s good for them.

11. Create Screen-free Bedrooms

Avoid placing a TV or computer in your child’s bedroom. Children with screens in their rooms tend to watch about 1.5 hours more TV per day than those without. Having screens in their rooms can also prevent children from spending time with the rest of the family.

12. Provide Alternatives

Watching TV can quickly become a habit, making it challenging to remember other options. Provide children with alternative activities such as playing outside, picking up a new hobby, or learning a sport. For more tips on being an active family, check out our website.

13. Focus on Family Time During Meals

Mealtimes are an excellent opportunity for families to connect and converse. Turn off the TV during meals or remove it from the eating area. Families that eat together have more nutritious meals. Start with breakfast, as it’s an excellent way to kick off the day.

A word from CalmSage

There is no shame in allowing children to watch movies, play games, and use social media in their free time. Children’s access to quality digital media can do many good things, including increased social contact and exposure to brain-energizing content. But setting boundaries is a good idea; you may wait to see the benefits of limiting and monitoring screen time. However, the “ripple effect” will occur, and you will see increased brain functioning and attentiveness. 

Your child may be unhappy if the screen time is limited and monitored, especially in the beginning, but remember they will benefit in the long run, including more time with you. So, when you limit screen time, discuss with your child, understand what they have to say, and explain what you have to say. 

Stay safe and never stop communicating! 

About The Author

Ayush Yadav
Ayush Yadav

Aayush is a writer, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change and make people aware about the history. He holds a bachelor's in law, lives in the princely state Jaipur and is passionate about helping people in anyway possible. In his spare time, he is usually out with friends and enjoys exploring different facets of life.

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