HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM)- According to the CDC, on average kids and teens spend anywhere from 6 to 9 hours a day in front of a screen. Is that a sign they are addicted to technology?
“That is a complicated question,” Christopher Ferguson said.
Ferguson is a clinical psychologist who has studied screen time and its impact on mental health. So, how much screen time is too much?
“There is not a magic number of hours,” Ferguson said.
Fergusons says it really depends on how that screen time is impacting your kid’s life.
“As long as the kids is happy, getting their school work done, getting some exercise, happy with their socialization, and they are getting enough sleep you don’t have a problem,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson says it is normal for kids to get upset when you limit screen time. He says setting limits is good, but so is communication.
“A parent will pop their head into the kid’s bedroom and say it’s time to go you need to stop playing your video game now and an argument erupts. Part of the reason that happens, and parents don’t always get it, is unlike a television show you can’t stop a video game on a dime like that, and often times they are playing with other kids in a social cooperative context so if they just vanish it is actually incredibly rude. You are basically asking your kid to be a jerk to their friends which is why they get upset,” Ferguson said.
He suggests giving kids or teens a 20 or 30 minute warning so they can finish the game and know not to start another level or game.
For a child or teen dealing with depression or anxiety, technology can be good or bad. That’s when a mental health expert can step in and help.
“It may be with the help of a mental health provider that you work together as a family unit to set some appropriate boundaries. I think sometimes with that professional help teens are a little more open to hearing it than they might be with their parents,” Ferguson said.