(WYTV) – Some schools are months into virtual learning, which means students have been spending more and more time in front of the screen, and not just the computer screen.
We’re used to seeing kids and teens spending time in front of their computers, tablets and cell phones, but since the pandemic began, the time spent on those devices has skyrocketed.
“There’s been a lot of debate…how much time is too much? General guidance is two hours or less. We know from most studies that teenagers use six hours or more a day on their phones,” said Laura Markley, a child and adolescent psychiatrist/pediatrician at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Virtual learning has been a huge part of it, but Markley believes some of it has to do with being stuck at home.
“No activities, no band, music, sports. What’s left is their phone. I think that’s had them cling onto their devices more when the pandemic began,” Markley said.
She says quality is more important that quantity.
“What are they doing on their phone? How are they using their phone? When are they using their phone and really looking at the times they’re using their phone,” Markley said.
According to studies, too much time in front of the screen can disrupt sleep and mood as well as school and family functioning.
Markley recommends having some rules in place to limit the time.
“Setting the expectation that having a cell phone is a privilege, not a right,” she said.
She also recommends not having the device at bedtime and putting it down during family times. Setting an example with your own phone can help, too.
“Parents really need to model the behavior they want to see in their children,” Markley said.
With the pandemic still going on, she says we could see more negative effects from screen time use. Even though we think we’re connecting with more people digitally, she says we’re actually getting more disconnected.
“The more we have to go digital, the more we have to realize the importance of at least maintaining trips outside, exploring our world and trying to keep it as expanded as possible, non-digitally,” Markley said.