screen time bad for kids boys Pragmatic Mom PragmaticMom Education Matters

2 Hours of Screen Time Contributes to Mental Health Problems

Let’s Celebrate Screen Free Week Together

Screen Free Week – April 18-24, 2011
Sponsored by Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC)
Turn off screens and turn on life: time to unplug and play, read, daydream, create, explore, and spend time with families and friends.

screen time bad for kids boys Pragmatic Mom PragmaticMom Education Matters“Parents as well as kids tell us that budgeting kids’ screen time has profound positive effects on their families’ lives,” added Robinson.

This is worrisome to parents of boys (i.e. me!). I know that I need to really monitor the screen time of my youngest who happens to be boy. It seems for him, and not his sisters, that  “He see screens … EVERYWHERE!” There is the DSi which is sneakily portable, my iPhone which he wants the minute he enters my car, the iPad (which he tends not to use), iBook (that he watches Pokemon TV shows on), iMac (next to iBook), iPod Touch that thankfully has a cracked screen and tends to get misplaced. Then there is the TV (one in living room and one in basement. The basement is teeny tiny so not very popular). And the Wii attached to the TV in living room.

Thankfully, he has less interest in the TV and we can’t seem to ever get our Wii to work properly. But sadly when he does watch TV, he is no longer interested in Noggin, Discovery Kids or PBS Kids. Where did my baby go anyway?!!! I miss that kid who used to play for hours independently in his room with a handful of plastic toys? Do I need to invest in more plastic? I did actually buy several Erector kits and it was great for a short time but it turns out that he DOESN’T like to make free form inventions but follows the directions precisely to build the stuff so he gets quite frustrated when pieces are missing and this toy seems actually quite stressful.

We do read books and he likes to read books but mostly at night. Did I mention that he gets out of Kindergarten at 12:30 three times a week?! So he needs to be entertained roughly 8 hours a day.  I’ve now added in boardgames and become more adept at ConnectFour, MouseTrap, Pegs in the Park,  and Don’t Break the Ice to keep him entertained but I can manage maybe an hour at most. A play date, add in 2 hours. Back-to-back play dates (yes, we’ve done them), 4 hours total. I can’t pull off back-to-back play dates every day.

Then add the dreadfully long and cold winter and that is a recipe for screen time disaster. My son hates the cold. And the dog park when it’s cold and even when it’s warm. “It’s boring,” he says.

Is he under-scheduled by keep-him-busy-to-get-him-away-from-screens measures? Or over-scheduled by Race To No Where guilt inducing terms? Am I stuck between a rock and a hard place?

He does scheduled stuff every week: karate (45 minutes), soccer (1 hour), Chinese (15-20 minutes), and Spanish (30 minutes). Is this the right amount, too much, not enough?! And will you get a different answer each time by asking a different “expert” just like with baby books?


Question: Do ebooks count as reading time or screen time or both or neither? I only ask because he likes ebooks.

Another question: How come my girls don’t even care about their screens? They mostly use their iPod Touches to listen to music.


I am not liking the sound of “psychological problems” at all. The study doesn’t elaborate on what exactly means but it doesn’t bode well.

There are mothers that I know that do a beautiful job limiting their kids’ (and they have boys too!) screen time to something like 1 hour a week. They must have nerves of steel. Are you one of them?  How are you keeping your sons off screens? I could use some tips and tricks!


(Reuters Health) – More than two hours a day spent watching television or playing computer games could put a child at greater risk for psychological problems, suggests a new study.

British researchers found the effect held regardless of how active kids were during the rest of the day.


The effect was seen regardless of sex, age, stage of puberty, or level of educational or economic deprivation.

Psychological problems further increased if kids fell short of an hour of moderate to rigorous daily exercise in addition to the increased screen time. However, physical activity did not appear to compensate for the psychological consequences of screen time.

The researchers also found that sedentary time itself was not related to mental wellbeing.  “It seems more like what you are doing in that sedentary time that is important,” said Page, noting the lack of negative effect found for activities such as reading and doing homework.

The full article is here.

photo by photostock

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Ezzy G. Languzzi

    You got my attention with this article this a.m.! Our house is filled with screens. We’ve resisted getting our 8 year-old the Wii. He finally stopped asking and now is on a DSi kick. Limiting his screen time was hard at first. I set the law at the beginning of the school year: no computer M-Th, TV only for one hour after dinner to watch iCarly or Big Time Rush (he was into House of Anubis for a while). I’m a little more liberal on the weekends, but not much. Setting the ground rules is always tough. I became “mean mommy,” which was fine by me. Lucky for us, he still really enjoys playing with his cars and trains. : )

    • To Ezzy,
      You are doing such a great job mom!!! I’m going to use you as an example the next time I law down the law!!! My son does like Bey Blades which is kind of like battling Tops (dating myself) but you can create your own tops by assembling the pieces. I now now like them as a toy and they are easy to clean up and store. The only thong is you need another person to battle.

  2. Elisa Waingort

    I am having the same issues you are and have tried the same things as you. I think it’s important that children also learn how to play by themselves rather than needing to be entertained 24/7. I would love to hear some ways that others have worked through these issues. I chuckled when I read “nerves of steel”. Well I’m often lacking in that department. There need to be some other, more humane, ways to address this dilemma.

    • To Elisa,
      Thank you so much for your comment. Yes everyone pleasenshare ideas of how to get them off screens and playing independently. I’m thinking more legos and now I’m willing to go to the really small ones.

  3. LOVE LOVE LOVED this post. I linked to it on my blog, and it generated a lot of good thinking and discussion Mama. Thank you.

    • To Mama C,
      Thank you so much. It’s so worrisome, isn’t it as a mama of a boy? Are they all gamers or just mine? How about Marcel and Sammy? How do you manage their screen time? We just saw the 3d DSi at the airport. My son was mesmerized but it turns out to be very bad for kids’ vision. Another thing to worry about!

  4. Gwen

    This is an ongoing battle for us! I have had some success recently in steering the kids away from screens by dumping a huge bin of legos (or other building materials) on a giant blanket (easy cleanup) on the floor in the middle of the room and spreading it out. Go through it and find the characters and make a big pile of them & their body parts. Buy some of the flat lego platforms which can be used to build buildings, forts, whatever. Or anything else that the kids will play with- if they walk in a room and it’s right in front of them, they start playing. But yes, we too fight the minecraft, wii, Simpsons, etc. etc. etc. draw…..The game blokus is kind of irrisistible too, at least for our kids.

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