Screen Toxicity In Children

Screen Toxicity In Children – What Do The Guidelines Say?

Updated on July 5, 2024

Are you aware of the dangers of too much screen time for children? Do you know the bad effects of screen toxicity in children? Today, many parents are proud to speak about their small children’s knowledge of handling digital devices better than parents. But they don’t realise the wrong effects on the mental and physical health of screen toxicity in children. It is also a fact that some children are taking advantage in the name of online classes and misusing their digital devices for entertainment which also creates screen toxicity in children. This article is focused on summer maladies & screen toxicity in children and the most common concerns that parents have regarding screen exposure of their kids.

Screen Toxicity In Children

We all know in the present world, screens are a part of everyone’s life. There is growing evidence showing the negative effects of excessive screen time on children and adults. We can easily improve our children’s health by reducing screen time.

Children learn things through imitation, and parents are their primary source of learning. If you ask your child to control screen time and then your children see you browsing through your phone often, chances are they would also want to do the same.

Your small child is too young to understand screen toxicity can harm their health. It is the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children do not get easy access to screen time.

Health experts say that screen toxicity in children encourages sedentary lifestyles leading to problems like obesity, poor brain development in the early years, sleep difficulties, vision difficulties, decreased attention span, irritability and impulsiveness, among other effects.

  • How does too much screen time affect a child’s health?
  • How does screen time affect a child’s development?
  • How much screen time is too much for a child?

Screen Time WHO Recommendations

Recently, The World Health Organization issued strict new guidelines on the usage and risks of smartphone addiction among kids. Many parents don’t realise the fact that screen toxicity is very dangerous to the health of children.

  • Infants (less than 1 year) should: Screen time is not recommended.
  • Children 1-2 years of age should: For 1-year-olds, sedentary screen time (such as watching TV or videos, or playing computer games) is not recommended. For those aged 2 years, sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour; less is better. 
  • Children 3-4 years of age should: Sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour; less is better. 

What Are Summer Maladies?

Let’s discuss what are the problems that are associated with the summer season. Just we have come out of the pandemic and during the pandemic, there’s a lot of exposure to the children, especially to the screens. It could be their online classes which had in fact contributed more. If you see our yesterdays when we were children, we were all during summer holidays, is nothing but going out to the street and start playing. Children could play and would have enough outdoors place. But what is the child doing now? If you see they have almost glued to a mobile, a laptop or the tv. They are almost lost in their own world.

What is screen and screen time?

This is a burning topic currently because most of the time parents ask us “if our child is not eating food, and we are showing them the mobile phone. Is it the right thing to do?” We will have the answer to this in this discussion.

What is screen time?

Any cumulative time spent by the child on any of the visual devices like mobile, tv, iPad or any of the handheld visual devices contributes to screen time. Because parents think that their child is going to school and that is not part of the screen time because of the online school sessions. No, this is also included as part of the screen time.

A younger child might have two to three hours of school sessions that the child has to spend in front of the screen and especially in the older age group it is much longer hours. So all this will contribute to screen time. And after school hrs what do they want to do? Do they want to go out and play? No, they want to enjoy their PlayStations or any other video games and add to the already existing screen time quality. Now sometimes excessive screen time can result in toxicity.

Screen Toxicity In Children – What do the guidelines say?

Less than two years, no screen time at all. Sometimes occasional video calls are acceptable. Between two to five years the guidelines say less than one hour is better. But what is the victim, the lesser the better. What do we do with adolescents? So difficult to manage. Isn’t it at home? Now let’s imagine the ideal situation. Probably in our generation, we didn’t have a mobile phone at all. What did we do then? One hour of physical activity, eight to nine hours of good sleep, family time, we would go out and play with our friends, mealtime, and homework time. But screen toxicity here can present a major problem. If any of these activities are displaced it is termed screen toxicity.

So we should be very very mindful about what the child is doing throughout the day. This will help us to know whether we are actually the screen timing or our screen toxicity scale.

What are the side effects of screen toxicity in children?

Could you elaborate on what are the side effects of digital toxicity at this point? Digital toxicity can actually be harmful also. It just not only mental status, the physical, mental, social, and overall school performance of the child can be hindered too.

What are the physical problems that a child can have?

They can develop obesity, they can present with headaches, and blurring visions. Vision problems can arise or even a sedentary lifestyle might lead to.

What is the mental stuff problem they come across?

From the very in especially in a smaller child, it can lead to delays in their developmental stages, they might come up with aggression, the anxiety. Sometimes the children might go into depression, and social abuse can be when the drug abusers can be asked. These are mainly because they’re seeing from this form they’re getting more information on the drugs and other social ill social activities that are going on and that can affect their overall development also. So even in the school the overall performance can we can come down.

So definitely screen time can harm the child not only in one single way but it is a spectrum of things that can be Harker in a child. So it’s always better to avoid as much as possible. Avoid the child exposed to the most screen, especially a child who is less than two years of age completely say no to the screen because you are yourself introducing a child who is dangerous to it. So as a parent be aware and be careful also. So parents please don’t be alarmed by all the side effects we spoke about it but directly or indirectly introducing too much screen time will be affecting the lifestyle of your children so please be mindful.

Screen time ‘may harm toddlers’ – BBC

Letting a toddler spend lots of time using screens may delay their development of skills such as language and sociability, according to a large Canadian study.

When young children are observing screens, they may be missing important opportunities to practise and master other important skills.

In theory, it could get in the way of social interactions and may limit how much time young children spend running, climbing and practising other physical skills – although they may still eventually catch up.

The American Association of Paediatrics’ (AAP) guidelines on screen time say:

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting
  • Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they are seeing
  • For children ages two to five years, limit screen use to one hour per day of high-quality programmes. Again, parents should be watching it with their children.
  • For children ages six and older, place consistent limits, making sure screen time does not get in the way of sleep and physical activity.

Source: BBC

Read Smartphone Addiction Problems And Solutions


From the above, you might have understood the bad effects of screen toxicity in children. Some parents show videos on smartphones to their little kids to feed them or stop their cries. They do not understand the effects of blue rays passing through the eyes of kids. Kindly follow the guidelines from health experts and save your kids from health problems.

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References & Credits: Dr Sindhu MV (Paediatric Intensivist) & Dr Nanditha R (Paediatric Intensivist) at Aster RV. You can watch the video

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