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How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Kids?

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Las Vegas Montessori | Innovation Academy Las Vegas

In late January 2019, JAMA Pediatrics journal published a study by authors who sought to answer a particular question: Is there a negative relationship between screen time and child development? Their multi-year efforts focused on 2- to 3-year-old children. The toddlers allowed higher levels of screen time tended to show the effects of their viewing later in life. In other words, at 3 to 5 years old, they were assessed, and found to perform poorly on a test of milestone achievements.

“When young children are observing screens, they may be missing important opportunities to practice and master interpersonal, motor, and communication skills.”

U.S. National Library of Medicine

In exploring the topic, the study also raised a related issue: Does excessive screen time at a young age lead to developmental delays? Or do children with delays get exposed to more screen time as a result of their challenging behavior? Despite the early evidence and warnings from national health agencies, there is no easy answer. Still, the news outlet CNN, citing the US National Library of Medicine, reported that the bulk of U.S. children spend five to seven hours in front of screens each day. Screen-based activities were not just TV-watching, but also included playing video games. Working on a computer, such as for school projects, was also considered screen time.

The study authors noted that screen time is the likely cause of behavior problems, but not the other way around. They wrote: “When young children are observing screens, they may be missing important opportunities to practice and master interpersonal, motor, and communication skills.”

Activity vs. Passivity

Montessori education focuses on hands-on learning activities designed to engage each child’s inherent intellectual curiosity. By design, a “hands-on” approach is active and engaged, so screen time is not a factor at school. Families are also encouraged to give it less priority at home.

As a Montessori school, Innovation Academy does not look at this as a “ban” on screens. Instead, this approach is a welcoming and affirmation of motion, creative work, and expression. Teachers fill days with music, art, and field trips, instead of online tests and training. Yes, this is a wired culture, so screens are truly unavoidable. In fact, IA does integrate technology into lessons when appropriate. Many children today will find careers in the tech industry. To that end, screens should be used to enrich life, not distract from it. Children, especially the very young, must be given space and time to explore the physical world around them. Even “educational” TV programs can still overwhelm with facts and stimuli.

A Caring Partner

As long as there are screens, there will be debates on the merits and perils of screen time. Parents tend to find this subject challenging, since children want to do what their friends do. Innovation Academy is not just a school, but a resource and guide for anyone who wants help as they figure out how to balance the use of today’s technology. CONTACT US to find out more.

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