Did you know the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two have *no* screen time and children under six should have an hour or less of screen time per day. When my children were young, I had no idea what the experts recommended. I did, however, know that Teletubbies on TV mesmerized my daughter and the program seemed harmless. It also provided me some quiet time for catching up on chores and other responsibilities. Since that time, I have learned more about media and its effects on children. It’s not just the content on the screens that can harm a child. There are plenty of shows/videos that seems harmless, perhaps even helpful, but we still need to place severe limits on children and screentime.
One study in 2019 found that children who spent more time than the recommended amounts on screens at ages two and three had poorer performances on screening tests for behavioral, cognitive and social development. In other words, more screen time was linked to developmental difficulties. Also, as Catholics, we believe that God created us out of love to love. That’s why loving and healthy relationships are essential to our development. Too much screen time is shown to impact our social development.
How can our faith help us to protect our little ones from the dangers of screen time? By practicing the virtue of temperance. When we practice temperance, we moderate or control our passions. Saying no to the screens may actually make us feel uncomfortable but that’s OK. Just like gaining muscle can cause some pain initially, saying no to the comforts of screentime is hard. But just like we grow stronger by working out, we become free to focus on who and what is important when we turn away from screens. Turning to one another and especially to God in prayer, will help us on this path of temperance, developing the healthy habits to find peace and harmony in our lives.
-Teresa Peterson, Making Space for Grace