Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

April 14, 2016

Teens and Screens: research review and advice from a psychologist


Amanda Cummings PhD is a psychologist at the Pineville office of Child and Family Development.  Dr. Cummings works regularly with children and teens, as well as their parents and caregivers.  These days, disagreement over screen time is a common issue.   She helps families find a common plan around computers and other devices by sharing research and recommendations.  

A recent article from Psychology Today lists the dangers of too much screen time, including:

  • Disrupts sleep and desynchronizes the body clock  
  • Desensitizes the brain’s reward system 
  • Produces “light at night”
  • Induces stress reactions
  • Overloads sensory system, fractures attention and depletes mental reserves
  • Reduces physical activity levels and exposure to “green time”

Dr. Cummings shares:

Related to fostering healthy habits, it is important that parents and kids themselves realize the importance of limiting screen time.  This has important implications for mood, self-regulation and sleep.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, television and screen-time should be avoided for infants and children under age 2 and limited to 1-2 hours of ‚Äúhigh quality‚Äù screen time for children and teens.  Simply because a teen is older and has more freedom does not mean that parents should not put limits on their screen-time activities.  Parents should aim to provide a structure at home that promotes screen-free activities, such as by having games and books readily available and limiting the number of TVs in the home.  TVs or iPads should not be in children‚Äôs private bedrooms.   Children and teens should spend most of their free time outdoor playing, reading, engaging in hobbies and using their imaginations in free play.  Spending time in more productive ways will naturally help limit the free time they have to use electronic devices.

She likes the idea of creating a reading nook (no, not the e-reader!) in a home or school, that is a dedicated space for shared reading and discussions, books and other screen-free activities.    Read more from here.  

Our team of 7 psychologists recommends an emphasis on GREEN TIME over SCREEN TIME, especially in the upcoming summer months.  Give us a call for assistance in making a plan. 


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