Many parents worry about screen time, especially after reading the latest study that involves children their children’s ages. However, how does one sort through the myths from the facts? It is becoming increasingly difficult.
Screen time addiction was not listed in the DSM-V (the main diagnosis manual for the medical community) because the health community can’t determine what amount of screen time or type of screen time constitutes addiction or harm. The evidence is not yet conclusive and until we have long term good meta-analysis evidence, no one can state how much is harmful. Opinions are all over the place because they are based on random studies, many of which are poorly done. What is a parent to do? Until we have good evidence, moderation is the best practice.
What we do know, is that children in stable families, with low ACE scores (Adverse Childhood Experiences) are less likely to be susceptible to any the 10 addictions, including screen time, no matter how much screen time they have. Families should aim for a balance of screen and real-time interaction with the priority on face-to-face relationships. For more information, this website is based on the research of 49 neuroscientists across North America.
Here is a graphic I presented in one of my parenting groups recently. Addiction is at greater propensity when children experience toxic stress during childhood. Toxic stress stems from the 10 ACES listed in orange. Research can’t provide good evidence yet which genes are activated by toxic stress, especially those children with addictions that run in the family. Screen time is deemed to be closest to the characteristics in a gambling addiction, but it still has unique qualities.
Best practices for parents? Build close relationships with your children. Avoid toxic stress in the family. Enjoy screen time in moderation.