New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)
Dial back on screen time
Go into any mall, walk down a busy urban street or sit in a casual restaurant, and one of the most common sights is a very young child playing with a phone or other digital device. The great electronic babysitter has become the behavior management tool of choice for many parents.
That’s despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics says there should be no screen time at all for children younger than 18 to 24 months, except for video chatting, and kids 2 to 5 should be limited to 60 minutes or less a day.
There are significant reasons why it’s smart to follow those guidelines. One 2022 study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that, for boys, there is an association between screen time exposure as a 1-year-old and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder at age 3! If screen time totaled two to four hours daily, their risk more than tripled!
And now, another study in the same journal has found that when parents use mobile devices to calm kids down — “Here, zone out on this!” — they deprive children of the chance to learn emotion-regulation strategies that help them cope with frustration. The result, they become more hyper-reactive, more frazzled by adverse situations and less able to use executive functioning to be attentive, remember instructions and juggle tasks. So, next time your little one acts up, identify the cause of the upset and use nondigital distractions you can do together (games, books, changing locations) to help your child learn self-directed coping skills.
Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is “The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow.” Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email questions@ GreatAgeReboot.com.