From the very dawn of the television era, parents have worried about how much time their children spend watching television. But new advances in affordable, electronics and digital devices mean that children are spending more time than ever with their eyes glued to one screen or another.
In the early 1980s, studies showed children spending approximately fifteen to sixteen hours each week just watching television. Now, with the rise of video games, social media, and web surfing, total screen time (TST) for children has soared dramatically. According to a 2010 study, the average American child (aged eight to eighteen) will spend over fifty hours a week in some form of screen-watching. This breaks down to 31 hours and 20 minutes watching television and an additional eight hours and thirty minutes playing video games. And the recent rise of Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms, not to mention texting, photo or video-sharing, etc. means even more screen time for children and adolescents.
One factor that seems to contributing to this trend deals with what has been termed "bedroom media" (BRM). As the price of televisions, video game consoles, etc have steadily dropped, more and more parents are buying televisions and other devices for children to use in their bedrooms. In the same 2010 study cited previously, over 40 percent of children aged four to six have bedroom televisions (BRTV) while 71 percent of children eight or older have one or more. Half of all children eight years or older have video game consoles (BRVG) as well. Not surprisingly, research shows that children with media devices in their bedrooms put in much more screen time per week than children who don't.
To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.