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Children and Excessive Use of Gadgets

Parents, we have a question for you. Have you ever experienced any of the following situations with your child?

  1. Your child throws tantrums every time you get the phone he is using and the only solution to calm him down is to give it back.

  2. Your child is having a hard time focusing on her school work. You see that she takes more time than necessary to finish a simple homework, and her teacher reports that she is unable to finish exams on time because she keeps on getting distracted. However, you notice that she can finish at least three videos of her favorite cartoon without getting distracted.

  3. Your child is already two years old but only communicates through pointing at the things he is interested in. He does not speak, not even one word like “mama” or “papa.” He also likes to watch cartoons that have no dialogue.

  4. Your child hits her sibling/s when they fight. When you ask her if what she did was right, she would answer, “Yes, because I am a superhero, and I should punch all the bad guys!”

If your answer to any of the following questions is yes, then you may want to re-evaluate the amount of time your child spends with a gadget.

Excessive gadget use may harm your child’s overall well-being and development. The following are some of the many possible negative effects of excessive gadget use to your child:

  • Development of the child’s executive functions may be hindered. An example is when using mobile devices, a child cannot practice waiting and frustration tolerance. He does not need to wait for a very long time since he can get anything she wants with just a click.

  • Speech development may also be hindered because the child is not given the demand to use her words when communicating.

  • The child may have delays in social-emotional and play development. When a child usually plays with her gadgets, opportunity to play with other children is limited. Social skills during playtime, like taking turns or sharing toys, may be a concern with the child.

  • Aggressive behavior may be developed when a child is exposed to violent media content. This is due to the child imitating the behaviors he sees onscreen.

  • Blue light emitted from the gadget screens hinder melatonin (hormone which helps us sleep) production and overstimulates the brain, which may affect the quantity and quality of sleep your child is getting. When a child does not get the right amount of sleep, performance in school may also be affected due to possible sleepiness and easy distractibility.

Knowing the negative effects of excessive screen time on children, some parents may ask, “Should I fully remove all the gadgets away from my child?”. The American Academy of Pediatrics released last October 2016 the recommended amount of screen time per age range of children.

  • Children with less than 18 months of age: No screen time, except for video-chatting.

  • Children with ages 18 to 24 months: Parents may introduce screen time, but only with high-quality programming. Parents should accompany their children to help them understand what they’re watching.

  • Children with ages 2 to 5 years old: Screen time should be limited to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. When watching, parents should also accompany their children to explain to them the program they are watching.

  • Children with ages 6 years and older: a constant limit on the type of media and length of exposure of the child to the media. It was given emphasis that media should not hinder a child from getting an adequate amount of sleep and physical activity.

  • House rules may also be made to limit the use of media at certain locations inside the house like the dining table and the bedroom. This is to help facilitate social interaction while eating and prevent gadgets from reducing the amount of sleep of a child.


Radesky, J. S., & Christakis, D. A. (2016). Increased Screen Time. Pediatric Clinics of North America,63(5), 827-839. doi:10.1016/j.pcl.2016.06.006

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016, October 21). American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use. Retrieved April 05, 2018, from

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