In fall 2021, the United States Senate held a hearing. It was about Facebook. Senators discussed whether it’s bad for children. Senator Dan Sullivan, of Alaska, said that national screen-time limits could protect kids. He mentioned something that happened in China last year.
On August 30, the Chinese government announced that kids would not be allowed to play online games Mondays to Thursdays. On most weekends and holidays, kids would be limited to an hour a day of online gaming. “Recently, many parents have reported that game addiction among some youths and children is seriously harming their normal study, life, and mental and physical health,” the Chinese government said online.
This news and Senator Sullivan’s words got us thinking. Should a government be responsible for limiting how much time kids spend online? We asked TIME for Kids readers to share their opinion. Many of you wrote to us. Here’s where you stand.
Justin Lining, 10
Most people are obsessed with their phones and TVs. You can hurt your eyes and waste time by being addicted to screens. And watching a lot of TV or playing games can interfere with kids’ learning and social skills. If the government limited screen time, people would be encouraged to spend more quality time with their family. They might join a sports team in their neighborhood.
Esmé McNeely, 11
The government should not set screen-time limits. That decision should be up to parents or guardians. Some children need more screen time than others. Some children need to use screens for homework. And during quarantine, one of the only ways to talk to friends was online. Government limits would not be fair to people who are careful with their screen time.
Jacie Lynch-Plaisted, 12
Elmira, New York
The government should set screen-time limits. Kids can forget how to socialize. And they can neglect to take care of their mental health if they are staring at a screen for too long.
Without screen-time limits, kids can sometimes stay up too late. Staying up too late can be bad. It can affect your sleeping schedule. Not getting enough sleep can make you feel really tired during the day. And feeling tired during the day can affect your performance in school.
Lucas Barone, 11
The government should not limit screen time. A 2021 study from the University of Colorado Boulder says screen time might be less harmful to kids than people think. Some parents worry that children who are on screens too much won’t make friends. But the study reports that screen time can actually improve kids’ friendships.
Screen time can be educational. It can help kids do good work. I use websites to read and to learn math. Kids can become healthier by using certain apps, too. For example, you can learn how to do yoga from screens!
Xiuhan Zhu, 9
I think the government should take action and limit screen time for kids. Too much screen time can lead to exhaustion and a decrease in socialization. Plus, smartphones are distracting. People who use them are more likely to trip or get into car accidents.
Devices like computers can also be harmful for kids. If kids aren’t careful with the websites they use, criminals can get access to important information.
Instead of keeping busy on the screen, try doing something fun and creative. Try making origami, reading books, playing sports, or tinkering with Legos.
Belem Gaeta Cuara, 10
The government should not set screen limits for a few reasons. First, kids need time to unwind after school. They should have as much time on screens as they want. I work hard all day. Looking at a screen when I get home helps me settle down.
Second, kids should have the right to talk with friends online and play their favorite games. Friendships are very important. Playing a game with your buddy can put a smile on your face.
Third, screens help kids learn and develop their knowledge.
Akshay Shah, 9
Scotch Plains Township, New Jersey
Spending too much time looking at screens can lead to poor grades, strain on the eyes, and loss of sleep. According to a national survey done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, children ages 8 to 18 years old spend an average of seven hours and 38 minutes on entertainment media on most days. And that data was published in 2010! About half of the students reported to be heavy media users got low or fair grades in school. With screen-time limits, kids would have more time to go outside, exercise, read a book, or play a game.
The Next Debate! Should schools give kids days off for mental health? Email your opinion to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your response might be featured in an upcoming issue.
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