Navigating the digital landscape tricky for parents

It’s crucial to understand importance of extensive screen time for children 0-5 years old


With the rise of new technologies, it is of no surprise that a new pervasive form of parenting is sedating children with screens. For example, if you walk into any grocery store, you will find young children sitting in carts, glued to screen so that their parents can shop without distraction. While this comes with short term advantages of peace and quiet, when it goes beyond a trip to the store and becomes engrained in a daily life, the consequences are many. In an era where screens dominate our daily lives, from smartphones to tablets to televisions, the impact of digital media on young children cannot be overlooked. As parents and caregivers, it’s essential to understand the recommendations, consequences, and strategies surrounding screen time for children aged 0-5 years old.

The recommendations provided by healthcare organizations such as OSF Healthcare and the American Academy of Pediatrics are clear: For children under 2 years old, zero screen time is recommended, except for video chatting with family or friends. This age group requires hands-on exploration and social interaction for optimal development. For children aged 2-5 years old, screen time should be limited to no more than one hour per day of high-quality programming, co-viewed with a parent or sibling. This helps balance the benefits of educational content with the importance of real-world interactions. (Legner, 2022) (AAP, 2016)

Understanding the impact of excessive screen time on young children is crucial. Research published in the National Library of Medicine has shown that early screen exposure is associated with lower cognitive abilities and academic performance in later years. Children need real-world interactions to develop essential skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking. Screen time also diminishes the quality and quantity of interactions between children and caregivers, hindering language development. Face-to-face interactions provide the rich language exposure necessary for language acquisition. Furthermore, excessive screen usage can lead to various issues, including obesity, sleep disturbances, depression, and anxiety. It can also impair emotional comprehension and promote aggressive behavior. Social-emotional skills are best learned through real-world interactions and play. (NCBI, 2023).

Parents play a crucial role in managing and reducing screen time for their children. They should be aware of the risks associated with excessive screen time and set clear boundaries. This includes limiting screen time, avoiding screens during meals and before bedtime, and encouraging alternative activities. Implementing behavioral controls such as parental controls and screen time limits can help regulate children’s screen usage. It’s essential to model healthy screen habits and prioritize face-to-face interactions with children. Although, if and when children do use screens, parents should prioritize high-quality programming that aligns with their child’s developmental needs and interests.

In conclusion, while digital media can offer some benefits for young children, it’s crucial to strike a balance and prioritize real-world interactions and hands-on experiences. By following recommendations from healthcare experts, setting clear boundaries, and providing alternative activities, parents can help their children navigate the digital world while fostering healthy development. Remember, the most valuable interactions happen face-to-face, not screen-to-screen. As we continue to navigate the ever-evolving digital landscape, it’s essential to prioritize the well-being and development of our youngest generation.


Caleb Peare is a Wabash College student who is serving an internship with the Montgomery County Health Department.