Skip to main content
  1. Life
  2. Health & Fitness
  3. Nutrition

Kids who eat in front of a screen

See also

Do your kids wolf down meals in front of a screen such as a TV, video game, or computer? You may wish to look at a new study on what are parents doing to limit screen time for young children? The phenomenon also is known as "screening out" as compared to "tuning out." The new poll is about limiting the use of media devices at mealtime or in the bedroom.Fifty-three percent say they limit media devices by location, banning use in the bedroom or at mealtime, says a new University of Michigan Health System (U-M) National Poll on Children's Health, "Screening out screen time: Parents limit media use for young children," published online April 29, 2014 at the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's health website.About 25 percent of parents who have children aged two to five say their children get three or more hours of entertainment screen time a day, well beyond recommended limits, according to a new poll from the University of Michigan. You also may wish to take a look at Healthy Children.org: How to Make a Family Media Use Plan.

The highlights of the latest report note that:

  • 26% of parents report that their children 2-5 years old have 3 or more hours of entertainment screen time a day.
  • 53% of parents of young children limit the locations where their children can use media devices (for example: not in bedroom or at mealtime).
  • 13% of parents report no limits on media device location or screen time limits for their young children.

Setting limits on watching screens at mealtime?

In the latest University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, a little more than half of those parents do try to set some limits by location: banning media devices from places like the bedroom or at mealtime. You also may wish to check out the YouTube video, "What are parents doing to limit screen time for young kids?" on this topic.

In 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued updated guidelines to recommend limits on screen time for children. The AAP discourages any screen time for children less than two years of age. For older children, the AAP recommends no more than two hours daily. The AAP suggests keeping media devices out of children's bedrooms, keeping family routines like mealtime screen-free, and setting screen-free days for the whole family. You also may wish to take a look at the website of Common Sense Media.

The poll found that 53 percent of parents are following recommendations that children's entertainment screen time be limited by location. Twenty-eight percent said they use a combination of location and time limits. But 13 percent said they do not limit entertainment screen time or locations for their young children.

The poll was administered in March 2014 and reflects the responses of 560 parents of children 1- to 5-years-old.

"In our poll, we found that one-quarter of parents of kids two to five years old are allowing more than three hours of entertainment screen time each day. That is more than is recommended," says April Khadijah Inniss, M.D., according to the April 29, 204 news release, "Screening out: What are parents doing to limit screen time for young children?" Inniss is a pediatrician at the University of Michigan Health System and research fellow in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program.

"When you get to three or four hours each day, that screen time crowds out other important activities that babies and young kids should be engaging in: looking at books, going for walks or playing outside," says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., according to the news release. Davis is director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

Parents' views about reasonable screen time differ by the age of their children and do not necessarily match the AAP recommendations, the poll found

Among parents of children younger than two years old, only 12 percent think that no entertainment screen time is reasonable. In contrast, among parents of children 2-5 years old, 88 percent say that two hours or less of entertainment screen time is reasonable each day. But Davis adds that limiting children's screen time remains challenging in a swiftly changing media landscape. That screen time now goes beyond television and videos to smartphones and tablets.

More parental education in this case is not necessarily the answer. Children's healthcare providers should try to understand and troubleshoot obstacles that young patients' families are facing regarding screen time, says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., who is director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health and professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and professor of public policy at U-M's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Davis recommends to his own patients and families that limiting by location is a good first step.

You may wish to check out the Poll's website at MottNPCH.org. You can search and browse over 80 NPCH Reports, suggest topics for future polls, share your opinion in a quick poll, and view information on popular topics. The National Poll on Children's Health team welcomes feedback on the website, including features you'd like to see added.

"The most common approaches to limiting screen time have more to do with location than counting minutes. That makes sense. It's easier to say no smartphones at the table, than to be watching the clock," says Davis, according to the news release. Davis also is professor of Health Management and Policy at U-M's School of Public Health. You also can check out the site, "Learning at Home: Families' Educational Media Use in America."

Inniss says the national conversation about children and screen time has to expand to include quality as well as quantity.

"Future efforts must concentrate on how media sectors concerned with children's healthy development can work together to produce and promote higher quality screen-based experiences," Inniss says, according to the news release. "This is an important next stage, because there is growing evidence that how young children interact with screen media is at least as important as how much time they spend." For more information, check out the Facebook site, or the Twitter@MottNPCH website.

The C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health – based at the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan and funded by the University of Michigan Health System – is designed to measure major health care issues and trends for U.S. children.

Data Source

The report presents findings from a nationally representative household survey conducted exclusively by GfK Custom Research, LLC (GfK), for C.S. Mott Children's Hospital via a method used in many published studies. The survey was administered in March 2014 to a randomly selected, stratified group of adults age 18 or over from GfK's web-enabled KnowledgePanel® that closely resembles the U.S. population.

Responses from parents with a child age 1-5 (n=560) were used for this report. The sample was subsequently weighted to reflect population figures from the Census Bureau. The survey completion rate was 61 percent among panel members contacted to participate. The margin of error is 3 to 5 percentage points and higher among subgroups. Findings from the U-M C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health do not represent the opinions of the investigators or the opinions of the University of Michigan.

Advertisement

Related Videos:

  • The benefits of aquatic therapy
    <div class="video-info" data-id="517673956" data-param-name="playList" data-provider="5min" data-url="http://pshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?sid=1304&width=480&height=401&playList=517673956&autoStart=true"></div>
  • Jennifer Aniston Ice Bucket Challenge
    <div class="video-info" data-id="518377289" data-param-name="playList" data-provider="5min" data-url="http://pshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?sid=1304&width=480&height=401&playList=518377289&autoStart=true"></div>
  • Celebrities are not the only ones taking the ice bucket challenge.
    <div class="video-info" data-id="518377289" data-param-name="playList" data-provider="5min" data-url="http://pshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?sid=1304&width=480&height=401&playList=518377289&autoStart=true"></div>