Surge in Screen Time For Children? Here’s What You Can Do

4 min read
Surge in Screen Time For Children? Here’s What You Can Do
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With the coronavirus invading our lives, the world has gone digital like never before. Everything from weddings to groceries has found its niche on the World Wide Web (pun intended), and while the convenience of this arrangement has been extolled far and wide, there also remain certain pitfalls of the digital system, especially for children.

As the pandemic clamours forth, screens and pillows have replaced blackboards and desks, and students all across the country are grappling with increased screen exposure due to online classes. 6-year-old Siya has 2 hours of online classes everyday, and also spends an additional couple of hours on the computer completing her homework.

Cooped up at home for months, the younger generation has become increasingly dependent on the digital medium not only for education, but also socialisation and recreation ‒ which has contributed to this digital overdose.

“I spend most of my time online,” says high school student Amogh Gupta, “even when I’m not studying, I’m either watching Netflix, scrolling through my social media feed, or playing Ludo with my friends.”

But so much screen time, especially for children and teens who are in their formative stages of development, is alarmingly detrimental.


Strained eyes are only the tip of the iceberg; unrestricted screen engagement can impair children’s mental health and social skills as well.

“Excessive screen time weakens the brain’s ability to process information, focus, make decisions and control thoughts. Since the mind and the body of children are still developing, the effects of screen addiction are worse.”
Dr Anupam Sibal, Paediatric Gastroenterologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals & Group Medical Director, Apollo Hospitals

“Rohan has gotten badly addicted to online games. He gets so absorbed in them that he loses sense of time and even forgets to eat. He has also become more irritable and aggressive,” shares the 11-year-old’s mother Veena. “Excess involvement with online video games can have a catastrophic impact on children’s mental health,” states Dr Sibal. Indulgent hours spent on virtual games can also make children less attentive and more violent.

A spate of other problems have also mushroomed among the young. The blue-light emanating from electronic devices affects the production of the hormone melatonin, which further disrupts children’s sleeping patterns, resulting in drowsiness and decreased efficiency during the day.


Greater screen time is directly linked to physical inactivity, and such extended sedentary periods may put children at a risk for obesity, explains Dr Sibal. Posture problems are also on a rise ‒ Siya’s mother Shruti shares that her daughter too has complained of headaches and neck pain from time to time.

With days shifting to the digital and outdoors a big no-no, parents are at their wits’ end on how to manage their child’s snowballing screen time while still keeping them engaged.

How Can Screen Time Be Managed?

If you too are worried about your child eyeballing too many Peppa Pig telecasts, math tutorials or online games, here are a few practices you can adopt to manage their screen time ‒

“It is important to reduce screen time to make sure that the mental and physical health of the child is not impacted.”
Dr Anupam Sibal, Paediatric Gastroenterologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals

It is worthwhile to de-screen wherever possible. This means phone calls, podcasts, and books instead of videochat, TV and Wikipedia. Off-screen hobbies and modes of recreation should be encouraged in children. “We have recently started an evening ritual of playing board games in our family. Rohan really enjoys it and it offers a refreshing break from our gadget-heavy schedules,” says his mother.


“Plan your child’s day in a manner such that there is time dedicated to online surfing as well as physical activities,” says Dr Sibal. Children can also be engaged in some household chores to keep them active and inculcate a sense of responsibility.

Tips To Manage Your Child’s Screen Time

Screen time should not only be reduced, but also optimised. A child should follow a balanced digital diet, which contains proportionate durations spent on entertainment, education and socialisation.

“Keep the computer screen 20 to 24 inches from your eye level and adjust the display settings of your device to reduce eye strain and fatigue. A break should be taken to rest your eyes every 15-20 minutes.”
Dr Anupam Sibal

It is also recommended to make a conscious effort to blink more often, and turn on blue-light filters on your devices to prevent dryness in eyes. Dr Sibal also suggests steering clear of all screens for at least 30 minutes before the child goes to bed.

It must also be remembered that children look towards their caregivers for cues. If you spend a lot of time on the screen, so will your little one. “This is why I only pick up my phone at night after Siya has fallen asleep,” says Shruti.

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