The most common question parents, therapists, and educators ask when they contact the Cyber Addiction Recovery Center is “how much screen time is too much”? This question translates into “what is a healthy amount of screen time”?
There isn’t a single, right answer. The amount of screen time that is “healthy” varies depending on age, social development, academic and/or occupational performance, sleep-wake cycle, engagement in hobbies, extra-curricular activity, and the presence of developmental and/or psychiatric disorders.
When this question is raised, the most appropriate response is to ask “describe your child/teen’s offline life.” If the answer is his/her grades are good (living up to potential), has an active friend circle (at school and in the community), enjoys extra-curricular activities, is active physically (sports or hobby), has a sleep-wake cycle that supports school/work, and can regulate technology consumption in accordance with house rules and academic/vocational demands, THEN, the amount of screen time isn’t an important issue.
In other words, the best way to assess “how much screen time is too much” is to assess the overall “health” of your child/teen’s offline life. Do not focus on a specific number of hours - rather, evaluate whether screen time is creating interference in your child/teen’s functioning across multiple offline domains.
The fact is some teen’s can binge play on their console for 5 hours on a given day, get their school work done, sleep adequately, and the next day forgo technology in favor of offline social activities. They easily find a way to balance technology consumption with their offline lives because they VALUE school, friends, sports, etc. With this said, there are children/teen’s that cannot regulate their tech consumption day in and day out, causing significant interference in the quality of their offline lives.The Cyber Addiction Recovery Center is available to help if your child/teen falls in to the second group. Give us a call for a free consultation.