Skip 
Navigation Link
Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Resources
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest News
Severe Deprivation in Childhood Has Lasting Impact on Brain SizeHealth Tip: What Your Child Can do About BullyingWildfires Send Kids to ERs for Breathing ProblemsTV Can Be a Good Influence on Kids' Eating HabitsWould Tighter Swimming Rules at Public Beaches, Lakes and Rivers Save Lives?U.S. Doctors Often Test, Treat Kids UnnecessarilyHealth Tip: Safety Steps if Your Child is Home AloneHealth Tip: Help Your Child Safely Lose WeightAmericans Need to Tackle Youth Obesity: U.S. Task ForceGenes, Family Are Key Predictors of School SuccessKids' 'Microbiome' May Play Key Role in AsthmaA Puppy in Santa's Sack? Probably Not, Say ParentsMore Kids, Teens Landing in ERs After Opioid OverdosesGetting Active Helps Kids' Hearts, Even in the ObeseWhen Does Your Child's Flu Merit an ER Visit?Health Tip: Managing Hearing Loss in ChildrenHealth Tip: Is My Child Too Sick to Go to School?Differences Found in Brains of Kids Born to Depressed ParentsSecondhand Smoke Starts Kids on Path to Heart Disease: StudyHealth Tip: Choosing a PediatricianMany Kids Traveling Overseas Aren't Vaccinated Against MeaslesCould Obesity Alter a Child's Brain Structure?Dramatic Rise in Eye Injuries From BB and Paintball GunsTwo-Thirds of Child Abuse Survivors Do Well as AdultsAHA News: Serious Heart Defects Increase Heart Failure Risk in Early AdulthoodMore U.S. Kids Are Shunning Sweetened DrinksAs Disease Outbreaks Tied to 'Anti-Vaxxers' Rise, States Take Action'Don't Give Up:' Parents' Intuition Spots a Rare Illness Before Doctors DoFDA Approves First Contact Lens That Slows Myopia ProgressionStereotypes About Girls and Math Don't Add Up, Scans ShowStudies Confirm HPV Shot Is SafeThese Sports Are Most Likely to Send Young Americans to the ERNature Nurtures KidsClimate Change Will Hurt Kids Most, Report WarnsTough Childhoods Can Leave a Lifetime of Harm, Experts SayMany U.S. Parents Can't Find a Psychiatrist to Help Their ChildAnti-Vaxxers Find Ways Around States' 'Personal Exemption' BansMake a Plan for Gardening Next Spring With Your KidsCheck Those Halloween Treats So They're Safe to EatFast-Food Outlet in Neighborhood Could Mean Heavier Kids: StudyAntihistamines Linked to Delayed Care for Severe Allergic Reaction: StudyPain Twice as Common for Kids With Autism: StudyPediatricians' Group Calls for More Research on Artificial SweetenersExperts Support Weight-Loss Surgery for Very Obese KidsHalloween Can Be Frightful for Kids With Allergies, AsthmaLawn Mowers May Be Even More Dangerous for Rural KidsHow Young Is Too Young to Leave Kids Home Alone?Skiing, Snowboarding Injuries Most Severe Among Younger KidsKids' Trampoline Injuries Take Another Bounce UpwardsCan More Exercise Improve Thinking Skills in Cancer Survivors?
LinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Parenting
Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)
Child Development & Parenting: Middle (8-11)
Childhood Special Education
Child Development Theory: Adolescence (12-24)

All That Screen Time Won't Hurt Your Kid's Grades - Maybe

HealthDay News
by By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Sep 23rd 2019

new article illustration

MONDAY, Sept. 23, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Parents can relax a little about how much time their kids spend in front of screens, new research suggests.

A large review of the scientific evidence on the topic concluded that media time overall is not associated with the academic performance of children or teens.

But the more time kids spend watching TV or playing video games, the more likely their grades will suffer, the international team of scientists led by Mireia Adelantado-Renau, from the University Jaume I in Castellon, Spain, found.

It makes a funny sort of sense, once you take a step back and realize how pervasive TVs, smartphones and laptops have become in modern society, said Dr. Victor Fornari, vice chair of child and adolescent psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y.

"This study just clarifies for me that life in the 21st century is so vastly different than it was 50 years ago. Tasks we used to do unrelated to a screen now involve a screen," Fornari said. "Reading a book is on a tablet now, and reading a magazine in on your laptop, and playing a game is a video game, and connecting with friends means you're on social media."

This evidence should prove reassuring to parents, said Fornari, who was not involved in the review.

"It's important for parents to know there's no real data to suggest that a large amount of screen time interferes with function," Fornari said. "These studies show it's really not the amount of the screen time, but the quality of the screen time.

"If you watch more television, then you're not studying or reading," Fornari said. "We know many kids find themselves addicted to video games and are playing hours and hours a day and not devoting their time to reading a book or studying for an exam."

For this new report, Adelantado-Renau and colleagues reviewed 58 studies on screen time from 23 countries, involving more than 480,000 kids aged 4 to 18. They also combined the results of 30 studies involving 106,000 children to delve deeper into the potential effects of screen time on learning.

It turns out that it's not the total screen time that matters, but what the kid does with the screen.

Television viewing was linked to lower academic scores as well as math and language skills, the researchers found, while video gaming was linked to poorer grades. The researchers did say the study only found an association -- it didn't prove one causes the other.

The new review was published Sept. 23 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

In the future, researchers will need to do a better job breaking down exactly what kids are doing with their screens, said Janis Whitlock, a research scientist with the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Passive screen activities appear to be more harmful to grades, as well as activities like video gaming that can prove a powerful distraction, said Whitlock, who wrote an editorial accompanying the review.

"I also suspect we're talking about a lot of TV," Whitlock added. "We're not talking about a couple of shows a night, I don't think. These are kids who are spending huge amounts of time passively watching television."

The same goes for video games. "Video games can become a really major time suck," Whitlock said. "Gamers have a really hard time stopping. You can go on for hours and hours."

Parents should monitor their kids' screen use to make sure they use the devices in beneficial ways and keep distractions to a minimum, she said.

"Don't assume your child can self-regulate," Whitlock said. "They can't. They really can't. It's a rare young person who can do that. Parents need to be aware and they need to provide pretty strong guidelines about when and where and how devices will be used, and for what."

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about creating a family media use plan.