Limiting screen time for adults, kids as online meetings, chats are more widely utilized

Health News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Local health professionals are seeing side effects of too much screen time associated with increased video chats because of social distancing mandates.

UnityPoint Health said utilizing technology, like Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime can take a physical and mental toll.

“Too much of anything can lead from good and healthy into overuse,” said Dr. Tim Cundiff O.D. “Overuse is what we’re just trying to get people smart about it. Taking breaks. Unlocking their eyes.”

Too much of a good thing doesn’t mean screens have to go dark. Small adjustments can ease tension while still connecting with others.

“Take breaks between meetings,” said President of UnityPlace Dr. Ted Bender. “If you’re going to have a lot of these meetings, try to have some time in between them. Stand up, walk around, get some exercise when you can.”

Limiting screen time isn’t just a suggestion for kids.

The Mayor Clinic acknowledges that while it’s not realistic for families to be completely screen-free, there are health benefits associated with slimming screen time that families should be aware of, including:

  • Improved physical health
  • Decreased obesity
  • Increased time to try new activities
  • Improved mood
  • Enhanced relationships

The average time spent on screens now is seven to 10 hours. Recommendations for an acceptable amount of screen time include:

  • No screen time whatsoever for children under 2
  • One hour a day for children 2 to 12
  • Two hours a day for teens and adults

“Find a way to take breaks,” said Dr. Tim Cundiff. “The rule is the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes that you’re starting at a screen… you should pause for 20 seconds… and look at something that’s 20 feet away from you.”

“We’ve gone from looking at screens and computers quite a bit to a lot,” said Dr. Ted Bender. “As humans, we rely on social connectedness to survive and it literally is that specific. We need a human connection for survival.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use, except for video chatting, by children younger than 18 to 24 months. If you introduce digital media to children ages 18 to 24 months, make sure it’s high quality and avoid solo media use. For children ages 2 to 5, limit screen time to one hour a day of high-quality programming.

As your child grows, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work as well. You’ll need to decide how much media to let your child use each day and what’s appropriate.

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