Grandma and grandpa have a hard time saying no, and increasingly that includes screen time for their grandkids.
In fact, according to a new report produced jointly by Rutgers University and Israel’s Ben-Gurion University, grandchildren are spending half of every four-hour visit with a grandparent watching videos or playing games on a tablet, computer console, or cellphone.
Researchers found that screen time increased with age, with six- and seven-year-olds in front of screens the most and two- to three-year-olds the least. It was also higher for boys, on average, by roughly 17 minutes per visit.
The report was based on an online survey of 356 Israeli grandparents of children ages two to seven, who reported taking care of their grandchildren at least once a week. It comes on the heels of a recent report showing older Americans themselves are spending more time in front of screens than ever before.
Screen time for children is a topic of worry for many researchers and health advocates, who point to a growing body of research that connects excessive screen time with decreased physical activity, which can negatively impact healthy physical and cognitive development and sleep habits.
A 2019 study from the University of Calgary concluded that screen time negatively impeded early childhood development.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization claims that 80% of adolescents are not sufficiently active, and recommends that children under five not have no more than one hour of sedentary screen time a day, max.
Avoiding screens entirely is difficult to impossible for many, but as more evidence emerges about the negative effects of excessive screen time, especially for young children, it’s worth putting consistent rules in place regarding screen time.
And besides, a screen can’t hold a candle to a loving, caring grandparent.