by Alicia Chui January 22, 2019

How Much Screen Time Is Too Much?

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Chinese New Year is approaching - the time of year when families visit each other for a little reunion, some new year delicacies, and most importantly, red packets. So while the adults are enjoying the chit chats, I bet you will find some kids being immersed in tv, tablets or mobiles.

It comes as no surprise that many parents are now content to keep their kids quiet by giving them electronic devices to play with. However, is it really fine to let your kids spend so much time on this stuff?

Let’s hear what the researchers have to say:

  • Dimitri Christakis from the University of Washington discovered that too much time spent watching tv and playing video games can double the risk of attention problems in children and young adults.
  • Sleeping quality: Screen time is shown to be associated with sleeping quality. It disrupts children’s sleep routine, shortens their sleep hours and may even cause them distress by the content of TV programme. This may lead to sleep anxiety or waking up at night.
  • Obesity: With reference to a report by the Department of Health, screen time spent is positively correlated with obesity in children. This is due to the decrease in the amount of physical activity as well as the high tendency to eat snacks while sitting down to watch TV or videos.
  • Cardiovascular disease: Screen time itself is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in adulthood. Longer time spent on TV or video games causes higher blood pressure, non-HDL cholesterol and insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) in children.
  • Hyperactivity, ADHD: Children who spend too much time on screens are more likely to be hyperactive, according to a recent study conducted by Auckland University of Technology (AUT). Another study supported that teens who reported not engaging in media use at a high frequency had a lower rate of developing ADHD symptoms (4.6%) than did teens who had engaged in at least seven activities (9.5%). In other words, the risk of developing ADHD symptoms more than doubled with high use of screens.
  • Eating problem: Screen viewing at mealtime distracts children from the food, and thus causes difficulties for them to build up a healthy eating habit.

Digital devices nowadays are inseparable parts our lives. Yet, with all ill effects that the excessive screen time could bring to our kids, maybe restricting screen time is for the best. According to the Department of Health of Hong Kong, the recommended screen time for children are as below:

  • < 2 years old: no screen time at all
  • 2-6 years old: less than 2 hours a day if necessary and under the guidance of parents
  • 6-12 years old: less than 2 hours a day
  • 12-18 years old: avoid long screen time

Screens aren’t evils, but other than tablets and smartphone, there are millions of alternatives to keep your kids occupied. Hands-on toys (check out for educational STEM kits), children books, music instruments and more. Explore the possibilities before your kids become a screen addict.


Author: Alicia

Image source: Treebath

Alicia Chui
Alicia Chui


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