Research on Screen Time for Kids

Research on screen time in kids

In this blog post, we’re talking research on screen time. Kids are exposed to screens, tablets, smartphones, laptops, etc. more and more, especially as education turns to online learning. What is the added screen time doing for our young kids? What does the science say about screen time limits. What exactly are the effects of screen time? Here, you’ll see just some of the facts about screens…and how to move forward to a more balanced life with screens. We’ve done the research on wellness. We know that an unbalanced life leads to overload in physical, mental, or emotional health (as in other areas). Unbalanced screen use leads to so much more and the research is telling!

You’ll also want to check out our recent post on the symptoms of too much screen time. It’s astonishing how our kids are impacted!

Smartphones and tablets have only been around for about a decade or so…but we are at the point where our elementary school-aged children have been around screens for their entire life. Many have constant access to screens, whether it’s through entertaining apps or by watching videos or by observing the adults in their life have a screen device within arms reach as they communicate, work, play, manage the home, play, navigate the vehicle…the list goes on and on.

Occupational therapists who work with children everyday on areas like balance, coordination, regulation, sensory integration, motor skills. All of these areas are necessary for completion of functional tasks. It’s through play that OT professionals work on these much-needed areas. And, it’s play and activity in real-life activities that the balance of screen time needs to occur.

Research oN the Symptoms of Screen Time

The research is telling us even more devastating facts about screen time in kids:

Things like the increasing occurrence of toddlers and preschoolers who have poor achievement of developmental milestones in the areas of communication, motor skills, problem solving, and social skills.

Things like the direct association between screen time and child development.

Symptoms of screen use in kids and research on screens and development in children and teens.

There is research telling us that more hours per day spent on screens is linked to lower psychological well-being, in a way that presents in executive functioning skills as well as social/emotional development. Connections between lower self control, more distractibility, less emotional stability, difficulty making friends, and inability to finish tasks are all depicted.

There is research telling us that increased time spent with digital media in teenagers associated with higher odds of symptoms of ADHD. This may show up as some of they symptoms of too much screen time.

There are reports of increased mental health concerns and mental well-being. There are findings on the overall functioning of the brain that looks like distractibility, frustration, moodiness, and irritability.

You may have heard of the blue light emitted by personal electronic devices. Because children’s eyes absorb less short-wavelength light, more blue light reaches a child’s retina. Children, therefore, may be at higher risk for blue light retinal damage than adults. Blue light emitted from smartphones, tablets, and personal computers before bedtime can delay sleep onset, degrade sleep quality and impair alertness the following day. Limiting those devices before bedtime not only address sleep issues, but can help with overall wellness.

Our teenagers are impacted as well. Hours spent on screens leads to less sleep adequacy, which impacts learning, well-being, and development. Less adequate sleep impacts learning and cognitive skill-building. This occurs right during the age that social-emotional skills develop, executive functioning skill development is occurring, and communication skills are set to develop.

There have been studies completed that show increased depression symptoms, suicide-related outcomes, and suicide rates coinciding with screen use levels.

There is research revealing that brain scans of children who spend more than 7 hours per day on screens show premature cortical thinning of the brain. This is especially significant for our young children who often times, hold phones right up to their face, in a slouched position.

In one study with 18 year-old college students, individuals with internet gaming addiction showed less gray matter volume in several parts of the brain (bilateral anterior cingulate cortex, precuneus, supplementary motor area, superior parietal cortex, left dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex, left insula, and bilateral cerebellum) (Wang et al., 2015)

There are so many more devastating facts and figures that should make us terrified for the future of our children.

Research on screen time in kids

How to use research on screens to create a balance

Things are not hopeless. We are at a point where we must learn, work, communicate using devices. Screen time is inevitable. But, what we can control is the balance of real activities, movement, and play.

All of this information on the research being done on the impact of screens on development, is covered and explained in easy-to-understand language in the therapist-created course and 12-step program, Digital Devastation Solutions.

Digital Devastation Solutions is a tool created by an occupational therapist that can make a true impact on our kids. This course provides the means to balance screens while providing the framework to help kids thrive and master emotions, physical health, mental well-being. It is a formula for helping kids establish skills they need for executive functioning, learning, motor milestones, and so much more.

Digital Devastation Solutions is a way for families to balance excessive screen time use and improve their child’s development. The course covers everything you need to know about the astonishing research that’s been done on screen use in kids and gives a step-by-step plan.

You’ll gain a knowledge of exactly what happens to the brain on screens. You’ll be able to use this information so you can give kids what they really need to grow and develop.

Digital Devastation Solutions is an informative course AND 12 Step Plan for raising a happy, healthy child in the digital age. Kids and families can use that 12 step solution to balance screen time in this new COVID era.

Therapists can access a workshop and program that can be duplicated in your practice. You can use the workshop as a class for parents and share this powerful research and step-by-step program with those in your community.

Therapists can help balance screen time

As therapists, we are experts in wellness. We know the power of occupational balance. Having too much screen time throws that balance off in a way that impacts performance, task completion, mental health, emotional health, and physical well being. Occupational therapy professionals strive to empower clients and families with resources to combat screen overload.

Digital Devastation Solutions offers a therapist resource to use in practice. This is a tool to build a workshop for sale or community building while building a practice. Not only will this workshop educate your community and offer great value, it will position yourself as the expert to offer solutions which will build your OT business.

  • An already done for you marketing and education system. All you have to do is set up the class and then press play on the PowerPoint. It will come with a script so you will know exactly what to say. This will save you about 40 hours of time. (Value $4000)
  • Parent handouts including: Screen Survey, Technology Agreement, When to Get Professional Help and Chores Chart by Age (Value $500)
  • Marketing ideas and a Pre-Made flyer you can use to market your class (Value $300)
  • Developmental Screening Form (Value $500)
  • Access to a private Facebook group to share ideas and support
  • Added Bonus when you Pre-Order “Quick Start Guide: The Step by Step Checklist to Set Up your First Class”

Click here to read more about Digital Destination Solutions Program for use in therapy sessions and practice.

bonus for Digital Devastation Solutions course

>>Free Ways to Add Sensory Motor Activities to the Classroom

>>Scree Research Printable

>>Classroom Sensory Strategies Toolkit

>>Indoor Recess Sensory Diet Activities

>>Outdoor Sensory Diet Activities and Outdoor Challenges

>>School Sensory Checklist

>>How Play Builds Child Development Printable

When you purchase Digital Devastation Solutions through a link on this website, email contact@theottoolbox.com with your receipt and you will be sent this bonus pack.

Wang H, Jin C, Yuan K, Shakir TM, Mao C, Niu X, Niu C, Guo L, Zhang MFront Behav Neurosci. 2015; 9():64.

Infant & Children’s Vision Resources supported by The American Optometric Association and Optometry Cares – The AOA Foundation . Blue Light Impact in Children [White paper].  https://www.aoa.org/Documents/OptometryCares/Blue%20Light%20Impact%20in%20Children.pdf

Screen Time Checklist

free screen time checklist

How to balance screen time in a digital age is a HUGE question that therapists, teachers, and parents wonder about. Our kids are struggling. They are impacted by increased time on screens in ways that we may have not ever imagined. The research on screen time is profound. So how do we balance screen time when it seems to be everywhere: schools, distance learning requirements, social media, communication apps, games, television and movie streaming, and so much more? Today, I’m excited to share with you screen time checklist to use to help kids balance screen use with activity and responsibilities.

free screen time checklist

Screen Time Checklist

This free printable checklist can be customized to include tasks each child needs to complete before they have access to screens.

Add chores, homework, or other responsibilities to the list.

Add reading time, creative play such as journaling or art creation to the screen checklist.

Add household responsibilities such as making the bed, getting dressed, brushing teeth, or cleaning up the breakfast plates.

Add physical activity requirements such as outdoor play, exercise, going for a walk, or playing in the yard.

Open ended checklist for screen time

The task requirements were intentionally left blank so that you can add the time constrictions and activity requirements. Perhaps you would like to see face-to-face interactions to work on emotional well being.

Maybe your specific child or client needs sensory play in the way of tactile exploration or vestibular input. These activities can be written on the checklist so they have exposure each day.

Maybe your child needs to have heavy work in their sensory lifestyle. This can be added in the form of heavy work chores or sensory coping activities.

If executive functioning is a concern, maybe adding a cooking activity for each day would be a good requirement before screens.

If reading is important to add to your child’s day, try adding a book related activity to the list.

I wanted to make this checklist a motivating way to accomplish individual goals while also adding balance to digital time.

Becoming more aware of how much time a child spends in the way of face-to-face interaction, creative play, physical activity compared to screen time is one of the first steps in helping kids balance screens and address some of those symptoms of too much screen time.

Screen Time Checklist for Home and therapy

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    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Digital Devastation Solutions Offer and Bonus

    digital devastation solutions

    I am SO excited to share a huge resource with you. As a therapist, I can see the change in our kids of today. Students and clients are different than they were 20 years ago when I started out as an OT. As a mom of four, I can see the day-to-day impact that screens have on children. I can see how much screen time is required for school (distance learning or traditional classroom education). I can see the lack of focus in kids when they are not on screens. I can see the meltdowns when asked to get off of a tablet. The outbursts, visual tracking issues, and threat to boundaries that screen time overload has truly impacts kids and families.

    All of this is why I am elated to bring you the Digital Devastation Solutions course and 12 step program to balanced digital life.

    Digital Devastation Solutions Resource

    We are required to work and learn online. Kids are playing, learning, communicating, and interacting with peers via screens day and night. As a result, we see frustration. We see meltdowns, inactivity, and kids pushing the time limits of screen use. They want to be on screens constantly! And when they aren’t they are stressed, overwhelmed, and frustrated by learning and social interactions.

    digital devastation solutions

    We can do something about this!

    >>It is really possible to balance digital entertainment and screen use with play, real activities, in-person responsibilities so kids can thrive in meeting developmental milestones.

    >>It is possible to offer tools for a balanced lifestyle so kids can transition off screens to have personal interactions and flourish in emotional, mental, and physical well-being.

    >>We can help kids move from a sedentary lifestyle to one that is active, imaginative, and thriving.

    Does any of this sound familiar:

    • Kids that are hyper or lack focus and have no sitting tolerance, a short attention span
    • Students that are barely getting by and functioning on sensory overload, with emotional breakdowns
    • Kids that are constantly bored and only want screen-based entertainment
    • Clients that are delayed in fine motor skills, core strength, emotional regulation, and in a constant state of sensory overload

    You are in the right place!

    We CAN manage screen time in a balance, and effective way that makes a true difference in the development and functioning of our kids in today’s digital world.

    Digital Devastation Solutions is a course and a tool created by an occupational therapist that can make a true impact on our kids. This course offers an in-depth explanation of the research behind screens. It shows us as parents, therapists, and educators exactly what is happening to the development of children with screen overuse.

    It uses easy-to-understand language to balance screens while providing the framework to help kids thrive and master emotions, physical health, mental well-being. It is a formula for helping kids establish skills they need for executive functioning, learning, motor milestones, and so much more.

    Digital Devastation Solutions is a way for families to balance excessive screen time use and improve their child’s development. The course covers everything you need to know about the astonishing research that’s been done on screen use in kids and gives a step-by-step plan.

    The course offers actionable strategies to impact our kid’s nervous systems so they get the activity they need, and it explains this in a way that is easy to understand.

    This course is a cost-effective way to get the research and understand it in a parent-friendly way. What’s more, you’ll be able to explain to others what the research tells us, so you can understand the impact screens are having on so many areas of development in children.

    You’ll gain a knowledge of exactly what happens to the brain on screens. You’ll be able to use this information so you can give kids what they really need to grow and develop.

    Digital Devastation Solutions is an informative course AND 12 Step Plan for raising a happy, healthy child in the digital age. Kids and families can use that 12 step solution to balance screen time in this new COVID era.

    Now is the time to battle the beast of screen time overload. There are easy action steps that you can do to balance out the excessive screen time kids are experiencing due to mandatory online schooling. You can use this information and step-by-step plan to improve your child’s readiness for school in the fall.

    This is an investment in your family and your child’s development and overall health and well being.

    This course and program is for therapists, parents, teachers, or anyone who works with or strives to raise functioning, balanced, and healthy kids. 

    • If you struggle with setting limits on screen time
    • If you are tired of trying trying to get kids to be active when they just want to play online…
    • If you are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start with helping kids balance boundaries around screen use…
    • If you are a therapist struggling to help kids achieve goals that just can’t sit still and lack focus, attention span, and sensory overload
    • If you are looking for actionable strategies to set up a digital detox that fits your family’s needs
    • If you are striving to create a balanced and lasting impact on your home and family…
    • If you are a therapist wanting to create a workshop designed to educate current and potential clients with a step-by-step program…

    Digital Devastation Solutions is for you! 

    The Digital Devastation Solutions course can be purchased here for just $29.

    Therapists can access a full, done-for-you workshop so you can replicate this course for clients and your community to truly make an impact.

    RESOURCE FOR THERAPISTS CONCERNED ABOUT SCREEN USE IN KIDS

    Therapists: I fell in love with this program and am using it’s 12 step plan in my own family. This course, created by a pediatric occupational therapist is not only a powerful tool for you own family…it’s the potential to make an impact on kids in your community and practice.

    Therapists can access a workshop and program that can be duplicated in your practice. You can use the workshop as a class for parents and share this powerful research and step-by-step program with those in your community.

    Therapists educate and address occupational imbalance (or overload on one are of life or another that impacts functioning and overall well being). We do this by helping our clients achieve functional goals, by addressing lifestyle habits like sleep, nutrition, and exercise. But what about the balance of screens?

    In this course and program, therapists will get:

    • An already done for you marketing and education system. All you have to do is set up the class and then press play on the PowerPoint. It will come with a script so you will know exactly what to say. This will save you about 40 hours of time. (Value $4000)
    • Parent handouts including: Screen Survey, Technology Agreement, When to Get Professional Help and Chores Chart by Age (Value $500)
    • Marketing ideas and a Pre-Made flyer you can use to market your class (Value $300)
    • Developmental Screening Form (Value $500)
    • Access to a private Facebook group to share ideas and support
    • Added Bonus when you Pre-Order “Quick Start Guide: The Step by Step Checklist to Set Up your First Class”

    Click here to read more about Digital Destination Solutions Program for use in therapy sessions and practice.

    BOnus for parents and therapists

    bonus for Digital Devastation Solutions course

    >>Free Ways to Add Sensory Motor Activities to the Classroom

    >>Scree Research Printable

    >>Classroom Sensory Strategies Toolkit

    >>Indoor Recess Sensory Diet Activities

    >>Outdoor Sensory Diet Activities and Outdoor Challenges

    >>School Sensory Checklist

    >>How Play Builds Child Development Printable

    When you purchase Digital Devastation Solutions through a link on this website, email contact@theottoolbox.com with your receipt and you will be sent this bonus pack.

    Symptoms of Too Much Screen Time

    symptoms of too much screen time

    You’ve probably seen or experienced the symptoms of too much screen time. Blurry eyes, a muddled mind, difficulty with focus, trouble stopping the screens and behaviors when asked to stop…But what are others experiencing when it comes to screen time overload? How do screens really impact our kids? And, exactly how much screen time is too much? Is it really that bad if our kids watch movies and play video games all summer? Today, I’m detailing all about what the research tells us about screens, and what evidence we have on the symptoms of screen use in children and teenagers.

    This blog post is part of a short series I’m sharing on screens and the devastating impact that they have on our children. I’m very excited to share with you a powerful tool that we can use to make a positive change in our kids. One that can impact our community and our children’s futures.

    Average Screen Time

    We know first hand that children today are using screens more and more. Whether it’s online learning, entertainment apps and games, watching videos, or playing with friends, screens are a part of our kids’ daily lives. Unlike kids of just a few years ago, children today have online learning, internet-based supplemental activities, learning apps, and screen-based reading on phones and tablets.

    With the sudden onset of distance learning and telehealth, kids are on screens, tablets, phones, and computers more now then ever before. Online classroom lessons and therapy sessions are just one more reason for more screen hours.

    “Play” is often screen-based: interactive video games with friends, gaming apps, messaging, and videos is done for entertainment. Children and families are tied to devices to manage the home and activity schedules and to communicate with coworkers, friends, family, teachers, and coaches.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that children ages eight to 10 spend an average of six hours per day in front of a screen, kids ages 11 to 14 spend an average of nine hours per day in front of a screen, and youth ages 15 to 18 spend an average of seven-and-a-half hours per day in front of a screen.

    According to the one study, children aged 8-18 spend and average of 7.5 hours in front of a screen for entertainment each day. That is a startling number!

    But, when you think about requirements for distance learning, video entertainment, communicating with friends and family, app usage, that number begins to make sense. All of the screen time throughout the day and evening hours adds up quickly.

    According to the World Health Organization, over 23% of adults and 80% of adolescents are not sufficiently physically active. Our kids are living sedentary lives and the adults in their lives are as well.

    Children are spending more time in sedentary activity by using screens and less time in creative, active play that their bodies NEED to thrive and develop.

    We also know that children under a certain age should not have access to screens. We know that kids need more active play and creative play that involves the senses. We know that our children need these things to regulate emotions, behaviors, and to give their nervous systems what they need to learn and develop. We’ve talked a lot on this space about wellness and well-being. We’ve discussed the balance of occupations. But, have you ever looked deeply into the research on screens?

    Children as young as 2 years old have their own tablets. The average age of a child getting a smartphone is now 10.3 years old. This is astounding and gravely against recommended ages of screen time according to the American Academy of Pediatric Guidelines.

    Symptoms of too much screen time in kids.

    Too much screen time symptoms

    The effects of screen time on children is showing up in the research. We are seeing astonishing symptoms of screen time in so many ways. These are just SOME of the symptoms and signs of screen overload:

    • Impact on physical health
    • Behavior Issues
    • Poor posture
    • Poor core strength
    • Poor fine motor skills
    • Increased frustration
    • Impulsivity
    • Moodiness
    • Poor ability to handle stress
    • Poor endurance
    • Mental health issues
    • Impact on emotional health
    • Decreased attention
    • Decreased cognitive skills
    • Overactive brain
    • Poor ability to transition
    • Addiction “state of being”
    • Less self-control

    Do these screen time symptoms sound familiar? Some of them probably do! But, it’s not just something that is in your mind when it comes to screens and foggy thoughts. These are the things we see when it comes to screen time. But what else is happening when screens take over the balance of play, physical activity, creative play, and imagination?

    • Less family interaction
    • More frustration
    • More stress
    • Poor ability to transition between tasks (stopping screen play and moving to a different task)
    • Less creative play
    • Less imagination play
    • Less oppourtunities for communication and interaction
    • Watning more and more screen time
    • Lack of energy
    • Poor motivation
    • More distracted
    • Posture issues
    • Difficulty with pinch and grip strengthe and dexterity
    • Eye tracking and shift difficulties

    The list could go on and on! It’s the iceberg theory of behaviors, only it’s applied to screen time and over use.

    Screen time symptoms

    There is research behind these common concerns. More on that in an upcoming blog post.

    All of this information, including in-depth research review behind these symptoms of screen time, as well as HOW to make a difference when it comes to unbalanced screen time are available in the OT-created course, Digital Devastation Solutions.

    Strategies to help kids balance screen time in the Digital Devastation Solutions course

    How to balance screen time

    We can do something. We can make a difference in our children and our future.

    This doesn’t mean that we need to completely take screens away from our kids! It doesn’t mean that they can’t watch videos or play games with friends online. But, we can offer balance, and the activities their nervous systems need to empower sensory and regulation so learning, emotions, behaviors, and mental well-being flourishes.

    What kids REALLY need, is balance. They need play to help develop their brains. They need play to create new neural connections in the brain. They need creative activities to build self-confidence, emotional well-being, and strategies to cope.

    All of this information on the research being done on the impact of screens on development, is covered and explained in easy-to-understand language in the therapist-created course and 12-step program, Digital Devastation Solutions.

    The practical strategies designed to balance screens with meaningful play are covered in Digital Devastation Solutions.

    Digital Devastation on Development Solutions- a course on balancing screen time for kids.

    How to manage Screen time

    There is a way to combat the requirements of online learning, distance schooling, social distancing, and the newest concerns of today. We can balance digital entertainment with the tools that kids need to flourish in emotional, mental, and physical well-being.

    We can manage screen time in ways that make a true difference.

    Digital Devastation Solutions is a tool created by an occupational therapist that can make a true impact on our kids. This course provides the means to balance screens while providing the framework to help kids thrive and master emotions, physical health, mental well-being. It is a formula for helping kids establish skills they need for executive functioning, learning, motor milestones, and so much more.

    Digital Devastation Solutions is a way for families to balance excessive screen time use and improve their child’s development. The course covers everything you need to know about the astonishing research that’s been done on screen use in kids and gives a step-by-step plan.

    The course offers actionable strategies to impact our kid’s nervous systems so they get the activity they need, and it explains this in a way that is easy to understand.

    This course is a cost-effective way to get the research and understand it in a parent-friendly way. What’s more, you’ll be able to explain to others what the research tells us, so you can understand the impact screens are having on so many areas of development in children.

    You’ll gain a knowledge of exactly what happens to the brain on screens. You’ll be able to use this information so you can give kids what they really need to grow and develop.

    Digital Devastation Solutions is an informative course AND 12 Step Plan for raising a happy, healthy child in the digital age. Kids and families can use that 12 step solution to balance screen time in this new COVID era.

    Now is the time to battle the beast of screen time overload. There are easy action steps that you can do to balance out the excessive screen time kids are experiencing due to mandatory online schooling. You can use this information and step-by-step plan to improve your child’s readiness for school in the fall.

    Digital Devastation Solutions can be purchased here for just $29.

    This is an investment in your family and your child’s development and overall health and well being.

    Resource for therapists Concerned about screen use in kids

    Therapists: I fell in love with this program and am using it’s 12 step plan in my own family. This course, created by a pediatric occupational therapist is not only a powerful tool for you own family…it’s the potential to make an impact on kids in your community and practice.

    Therapists can access a workshop and program that can be duplicated in your practice. You can use the workshop as a class for parents and share this powerful research and step-by-step program with those in your community.

    Therapists will get:

    • An already done for you marketing and education system. All you have to do is set up the class and then press play on the PowerPoint. It will come with a script so you will know exactly what to say. This will save you about 40 hours of time. (Value $4000)
    • Parent handouts including: Screen Survey, Technology Agreement, When to Get Professional Help and Chores Chart by Age (Value $500)
    • Marketing ideas and a Pre-Made flyer you can use to market your class (Value $300)
    • Developmental Screening Form (Value $500)
    • Access to a private Facebook group to share ideas and support
    • Added Bonus when you Pre-Order “Quick Start Guide: The Step by Step Checklist to Set Up your First Class”

    Click here to read more about Digital Destination Solutions Program for use in therapy sessions and practice.

    bonus for Digital Devastation Solutions course

    >>Free Ways to Add Sensory Motor Activities to the Classroom

    >>Scree Research Printable

    >>Classroom Sensory Strategies Toolkit

    >>Indoor Recess Sensory Diet Activities

    >>Outdoor Sensory Diet Activities and Outdoor Challenges

    >>School Sensory Checklist

    >>How Play Builds Child Development Printable

    When you purchase Digital Devastation Solutions through a link on this website, email contact@theottoolbox.com with your receipt and you will be sent this bonus pack.