DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My son began virtual learning when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down our local school system. He is 14 and enjoys school online, so we have continued this. Unfortunately, my son's only extracurricular activities are screen-based, as well. Should I limit his activities online, even though he's doing well in school?
ANSWER: In an increasingly digitalized world, where most people — even children — own electronic devices with screens, many parents worry about the effects of screen use on themselves and their children.
To complicate matters, some screen time can be educational for children and support their social development. With the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders, many children and teens spent even more time playing video games to socialize with friends, since they couldn't get together in person.
With screens virtually everywhere, controlling a child's screen time can be challenging. It's difficult to avoid screens completely. However, excessive screen time can affect people's mental, social and physical health.
Too much screen time has been linked to:
• Poor sleep or insomnia.
• Behavioral problems, including impulsive actions.
• Loss of social skills.