If we took a poll among the readers of this blog, I believe most respondents would agree that the amount of screen time for teens and adults is a concern. All you have to do is sit in any restaurant, airport or other area public area to see how attached we are to digital devices. And in some restaurants, an end device is positioned at the table, offering entertainment while you wait for your server to take your order or deliver your food. Over your shoulder, you might find a series of TVs streaming major sporting events. In other words, without giving it much thought, we can choose screen time over spending time with one another.
This is something I realized a while ago, so I didn’t anticipate being too surprised at the data we would find for our updated report. However, I was wrong. Not only is there a seismic shift in screen time for older kids and adults, infants and young children are experiencing it, too.
According to a 2016 Technical Report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, children in 1970 began watching television on a regular basis at about four years of age. Today, with the proliferation of digital devices, this interaction begins at four months of age. And from 2011 to 2013, the percentage of children from newborn to age eight who had mobile device access rose from 53% to 75%. Even the very young have specific viewing habits, and this age group primarily watches YouTube and Netflix.
Cris Rowan, a pediatric occupational therapist and child development expert, has issued a Fact Sheet on this trend that includes the following data averages:
Infant screen time: 2.5 hours of television daily
Children screen time: 7.5 hours daily of various digital entertainment technologies
30 percent of children entering kindergarten are “developmentally vulnerable”.
Because of the consistent findings among leading child development experts and pediatric professionals regarding the effects of media exposure on young children, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no media exposure in children under 2 years of age (including eBooks). For proper development in “cognitive, language, sensimotor and social-emotional skills”, there must be personal interaction.
So if you are a parent or grandparent to this age group, consider turning off the television and putting away the smartphone. That little one needs you, not technology.
(For further information, please read the publication Children and Adolescents and Digital Media published by the AAP Council on Communications and Media, 2016.)
Franklin Santagate is the Vice President of Pure Flix Global Strategic Alliances, which works with denominations, ministries, and organizations by finding common vision, assets, resources and influence. From that position, we create initiatives we can do together that we cannot do apart, reaching our mutual objectives and expanding the Kingdom of God. To discover more or to become a Pure Flix Global Strategic Alliance partner go to http://pureflixalliance.com/join/.
To contact Franklin for speaking opportunities at churches and special events, email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.