Screen time doubles for kids during pandemic

According to a doctor with Kaiser Permanente, on average, every child's screen time has nearly doubled since 2020.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Before the pandemic, doctors had concerns about how long children were spending on digital devices. Those concerns have only grown.

According to a doctor with Kaiser Permanente, on average, every child's screen time has nearly doubled since 2020.

This screen time is separate from virtual learning, which means some children are spending extra time gaming, streaming, texting or using social media.

"They're so intuned with wanting to be on the screen versus doing anything else, because it's almost addictive. Screen time is addictive," explained Dr. Mitul Patel.

The Kaiser pediatrician said there is a link between higher screen usage and poorer mental health. He encourages parents to get their children outside.

Dr. Patel suggests gradually cutting screen time by 15 minutes every day to the age-recommended screen usage.

"Below two years of age, they should have no screen time. Children ages two to five should have about one hour of screen time, at most, and that should be educational-based," he said. "Kids five and older should have about no more than two hours of screen time, and that's not including homework."

Parents should also look out for any change in their child's eyesight.

Dr. Patel said staring at a screen for long periods can also impact eye health.

He recommends parents and teachers follow the 20-20-20 Rule when students are on a digital device.

"Every 20 minutes, I want them to stand up, look at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds," Dr. Patel said. "That decreases the eye strain."

As the pandemic continues, some health officials believe screen times will only increase, with many social activities now being available online.

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