Too Much Screen Time as a Child Can Lead to Future Tobacco Use and Gambling Disorders

According to research author Dr. Helena McAnally, frequent leisure-time TV watching between the ages of 5 and 15 may be a risk factor for the onset of subsequent illnesses.

“People often talk of television viewing as an addiction; this research indicates that, for some people, television viewing may be an early expression of an addictive disorder or may lead to later substance-related and other addictive disorders,” she says.


Watching television during childhood and adolescent years was linked to an increased risk of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and compulsive gambling in adulthood. These relationships for tobacco and gambling were independent of other putative factors affecting these outcomes, such as gender, socioeconomic position, and measures of early self-control.

Excessive leisure time television viewing in childhood and adolescence has been linked to a variety of poorer adult health and well-being outcomes, according to co-author Professor Bob Hancox, but “to our knowledge, this research is among the first to assess how a common, but potentially addictive behavior, such as television viewing, is related to later substance disorder and disordered gambling.”

“Public health agencies have put great effort into advocating for safer alcohol use and safe sexual practices; similar campaigns could be used to advocate for safe screen use. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ previous recommendation of a daily average limit of two hours of screen time may remain a reasonable guide for leisure-time screen time in children and adolescents,” Professor Hancox says.

The study emphasizes the potential need for digital health and well being assistance.

How to Limit Television Time

Explain why Limiting Screen Time is Important:

If your children realize that you’re restricting your family’s time on screens because too much screen time has negative consequences, they’ll be far more inclined to obey the limits you set. If your children believe you are “being cruel,” they may oppose or violate the guidelines you are attempting to enforce.

Explain how violent games, television programs, and films can be detrimental based on your child’s age. If your children use the Internet, make sure you talk to them about the hazards of online predators.

Make sure that everyone in your family participates in the debate around screen time and helps to create a set of guidelines that can be followed.

Healthy Digital Time:

Children should be exposed to healthy and educational shows from a young age. Leaving the TV on for background sound or browsing through your phone whenever you have a spare moment may not be modeling the screen-related behavior you want to see in your children.

Learn More About Technology:

Today’s children are technologically aware. Most of them are more knowledgeable about gadgets than adults. Parents must stay up-to-date with the latest apps, games, platforms for social media, technology, and trends.

Technology-Free Zones:

Establish no-electronics zones in your home, whether they are mobile phones, portable video games, or laptops. Another instance is your home’s dining area or pantry, which you could set aside for meals and family gatherings.

Digital Detox:

Make time for the entire family to disconnect from their technological devices. Two examples are dinnertime and an hour before bedtime. When everyone agrees to put down their devices, it allows your family to spend focused, quality time together. Consider a longer family internet detox, such as during a break from school or vacation.

Time to use the Parental Controls:

You may use technologies to keep your children away from sexual information on the Web and on television. Many networks, web browsers, and televisions feature parental controls that can be configured to filter or prevent inappropriate information.

If your children have smartphones, you may also build content filters with built-in settings or apps. Many allow you to restrict access to specific sites, internet searches, or even terms.

Encouraging Other Activities:

With so many apps, games, gadgets, and pieces of content available, it’s easy for children to become overly dependent on technology for entertainment. Encourage youngsters to seek out and engage in activities that don’t require the use of a screen. Playing outside, reading a book, or even resurrecting a board-game are just a few suggestions.

It can also assist in helping to create (and enforce) a timetable that each member of your household adheres to. Making it obvious to your children when they are and are not permitted to use screens will assist in defining your expectations and may avert disagreements.

Making Screen Time a Privilege:

You might make television time a privilege instead of a right. If you adopt a method of discipline that involves deprivation (negative consequences), a child’s phone, computer, or video game could be one of those deprivations.

However, after you’ve established a restriction on screen time, don’t allow children to earn additional time as a reward. Adhere to the daily allowance instead, and provide additional free or low-cost gifts to reinforce great behavior.

Encourage your children to spend less time on screens and in screen-free zones by engaging with them in a pleasant, fun, and authentic manner. If you are, they are more likely to turn to a device to escape.

If you repeatedly remind them of their messy room or a hard school task during no screen time, they are more inclined to turn to screen time to escape.

Keep Screens out of Your Child’s Bedroom:

You won’t be able to control your child’s screen time if they can use devices away from you. As a result, you should create a rule that says televisions, gaming systems, and laptops are not permitted in your kid’s bedroom.

Source: Medindia

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