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The Impact of Unlimited Screen Time on Education

screen time

What does unlimited screen time do to children?  Parents are close to finding out.  When school moved online for the pandemic, adolescents’ screen time more than doubled.  In 2021, parents ranked increased time online as one of the top 3 harmful effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

It’s not just school; quarantine also limited offline opportunities for children to see their friends.  Since the pandemic, 63% of parents say their teens’ social media use has increased.  Teens who use more social media more than 3 hours a day are at a heightened risk of mental health issues.  Such issues include lower self-esteem, distorted body image, and feelings of isolation and loneliness.  What began as a way to stimulate human connection has damaged it instead.

Beyond social media, children also face the risk of exposure to the worst of the internet.  7 in 10 children have accidentally accessed harmful content online.  On average, children are first exposed to pornography at age 11.  For those who were children in 1985, the average age was 13.5.  Many internet users experience unwanted exposure to pornography through ads, pop-ups, misdirected links, or emails.  For children, early exposure can have long term consequences, from greater risk of depression to inaccurate ideas about unsafe sexual behaviors.  In the worst of cases, it can encourage children as young as 9 to take explicit photos of themselves.  In 2020, a third of reported child sexual abuse material was self-generated, 80% of which came from 11 to 13 year old girls.

With all these dangers present, it’s no wonder that parents worry about their child’s safety online.  What can parents do to make the internet a safer place?  The first step is to talk to your child.  It’s never too late to start an open, ongoing conversation about the role of technology in their lives.  Your child should know that you’re there to support them.  Communication and leading by example will help your kid develop healthy habits, such as a curfew for electronic devices that everyone in the house observes.  Parental controls can also be used to filter web traffic.

This Is Your Mind Online: What Unlimited Screen Time Does To Kids

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