Screen time increases for children during fall and winter months

Published: Nov. 5, 2022 at 10:37 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 5, 2022 at 11:37 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - As the temperatures continue to drop and the days get shorter, children will be spending more time indoors. For some kids, that means an increase in screen time.

“Screen time is definitely noted to increase during winter times,” said Dr. Sonal Chandratre, a pediatric endocrinologist at Aspirus Health.

Pediatricians have already seen an increase in screen time in children, but with the cold weather moving in, kids spend even more time on their devices.

“You defiantly see an increase in screen time use in the winter time and it is because kids are not getting outside as much,” said Dr. Abby Smolcich, a pediatrics specialist at ThedaCare.

The pediatrician said increased screen time can have negative effects on kids.

“Excessive screen time is linked with a wide range of physical, academic, and behavioral concerns,” said Dr. Chandratre.

Health experts said sleep is one of the effects of too much screen time.

“Because the blue light that comes out of the screen actually inhibits the production of melatonin, which is a hormone that helps you sleep,” said Dr. Chandratre.

But that’s not the only symptom of too much screen time.

“So a lot of screen time leads to more sedentary behavior and more sedentary lifestyle. Ultimately, that can lead to obesity and as we all know can lead to a lot of other chronic medical conditions,” said Dr. Smolcich.

What is considered a healthy amount of screen time?

“A healthy amount of screen time for a child is about 1 to 2 hours a day. This is outside of screen time related to school,” said Dr. Smolcich.

Pediatricians recommend some ways to keep the little ones entertained and off of their phones.

“I would suggest when the temperatures are good to try out a different winter sport. Try out snowshoeing, or ice skating,” said Dr. Chandratre.

The health experts said keeping kids off of their devices all starts with setting a good example.

“I think one of the biggest things adults can do is be a good role model. A good digital role model. So if you are expecting your kiddo to have only 1-2 hours of screen time per day, you should also only have 1-2 hours of screen time per day,” Dr. Smolcich.